Israeli Judokas Win Medals in UAE, for First Time With Israeli Flag and Anthem
JNS.org – Three Israeli judokas in the United Arab Emirates, competing in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam competition under the Israeli flag for the first time, won bronze medals.
Gili Cohen, Baruch Shmailov and Timna Nelson Levy all finished third place in their weight classes. Gefen Primo finished fifth.
The competitors received their medals in the presence of sportsmen from 62 countries, as well as Israeli Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev, who attended to mark the momentous occasion in which Israel’s flag and anthem were not banned for the first time.
Regev is the first Israeli minister to officially visit the UAE—a milestone given that the UAE and Israel have no official diplomatic relations.
Social media posts on Friday showed Regev and members of the Israeli team lighting Shabbat candles and singing traditional songs ahead of the two-day tournament.
Last year, UAE organizers allowed Israeli competitors to take part in the international competition hosted in their country on the condition that they did not display their flag or play their anthem, even if they won a gold medal.
Israel filed a complaint with the International Judo Federation, which temporarily suspended the UAE from hosting the competition, saying that it was not eligible to host international events if it discriminated against athletes based on the countries they represented.
The UAE subsequently relented, allowing Israel to compete on the same basis as all other countries.