Israelis win medals at Abu Dhabi judo tourney. Why didn’t they play the national anthem?


(JTA) — Two Israelis won medals at a judo tournament in Abu Dhabi, but tournament organizers refused to play the customary national anthem of the medalists.

Tal Flicker stood on the podium to receive his gold medal in the men’s under-145 pound category on Thursday, the first day of the Grand Slam tournament in the United Arab Emirates, a country that does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. He wore the uniform of the International Judo Federation and received his medal under an IJF flag while the anthem of the federation was played. But video clips showed Flicker singing what appears to be the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikvah.”

The same day, Gili Cohen won a bronze medal in the women’s under-114 pounds category and received the same treatment.

Earlier this month, Israeli team members were informed that they would not be permitted to compete under any Israeli symbols, claiming it was for security reasons. Two years ago, eight Israelis competed under similar conditions during the same event in Abu Dhabi.

On Wednesday, the International Judo Federation ordered the UAE to treat Israeli athletes equally during the tournament.

Prior to leaving for Abu Dhabi, Flicker posted a photo of himself on Facebook wearing an Israeli uniform.

“We’ll do anything to get to Abu Dhabi and end up on the podium,” he wrote. “Everyone in the world knows where we are from and which country we represent. I am the most proud to be Israeli.”

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