UAE Judoka Refuses to Shake Hands of Israeli Who Beats Him

Israeli judo champion sings Israeli anthem to himself since Abu Dhabi wouldn't play it

Israeli judoka Tal Flicker won a gold medal on Thursday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam judo tournament amid a ban by the event's organizers on Israeli national symbols, including the country's flag and national anthem. The music playing from the arena's loudspeakers, however, as well as the flag rising above his head, had nothing to do with Israel.

But his achievement was marred when he had to look at the International Judo Federation's (IJF) flag and listen to its anthem rather than his own because of a ban in the Gulf state on the display of Israeli symbols.

Rising Judoka star Tal Flicker chose to sing the Hatikvah after organisers snubbed the Israeli anthem and flag. "I was singing "Hatikvah" from my heart".

Later Flicker, who was ranked number 2 in the world before the Grand Slam, explained that he defied his UAE hosts because he is proud of his country. "The fact that they hid our flag, it's just a patch on our flag".

A letter from the IJF to the president of the UAE Judo Federation obtained by The Associated Press said that "all delegations, including the Israeli delegation, shall be treated absolutely equally in all aspects, without any exception".

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He expressed pride in his country. Organizers reportedly cited concerns for the Israeli athletes' safety as reason for making them compete as neutral.

When female Israeli athlete Gili Cohen won bronze in her under-52 kilograms (114 pounds) class, the Israeli flag was not flown on her behalf either.

For the same reason, they explained that should an Israeli win a gold medal, "Hatikva" would not be played.

In 2015 Israel accepted the conditions for that year's Abu Dhabi tournament, with its judokas wearing uniforms in the colours of the International Judo Federation. "We'll do anything to get to Abu Dhabi and end up on the podium".

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