The International Judo Federation (IJF) on Friday suspended planned competitions in Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after the hosts failed to confirm that Israeli athletes would receive equal treatment.
The IJF had asked judo officials in both nations to provide written guarantees that the Israeli national anthem and flag could be included in the events.
“As no positive answer was received to date, although past the given deadline, the International Judo Federation’s executive committee decided to suspend both the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and the Tunis Grand Prix until governmental guarantee is given to ensure free and equal participation of all nations at the said events,” an IJF statement said.
The federation “is aware that the situation and incidents registered are due to a complex and complicated political and historical context, but we strongly believe that politics should not have any interference in sports,” it added.
Israel Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev welcomed the decision to scrap the events, accusing the UAE and Tunisia of playing “an ugly game … and showing prejudice.”
“I welcome IJF president Mr Marius Vizer for his justified and courageous decision to cancel the competitions in both Abu Dhabi and Tunisia due to their outrageous decision to draw a distinction between national teams that will be allowed to fly their flags and to sound their national anthems and others which will not,” Regev said.
“International competitions should not ban any state. Tunisia and Abu Dhabi play an ugly game and show their prejudice. Mr Vizer’s justified and brave decision should set an example to all international sports leaders,” she added.
The Abu Dhabi event was scheduled to be held from Oct. 25 to 27, while the Tunis Grand Prix has in recent years been scheduled in January.
At last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, Israeli gold medalist Tal Flicker sang his own anthem privately after winning.
The Israeli federation was reportedly aware ahead of the event that there would no formal recognition of the Jewish state during the competition.
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