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February 1, 2023 9:58 am

Israeli Olympic Shooter Pulls Out of World Cup After Being Told He Cannot Compete With Israeli Symbols


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Israeli shooter Sergey Rikhter. Photo: Olympic Committee of Israel via Wikimedia Commons.

Israeli Olympic shooter Sergy Rikhter pulled himself out an international competition after organizers refused to allow him to compete with any symbols that represent Israel, according to the French Jewish publication Alliance.

The 2023 International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Rifle & Pistol taking place from Jan. 27 – Feb. 7 in Jakarta, Indonesia, which has no formal diplomatic ties with Israel, is the first of four World Cup competitions this year that athletes need to compete in and excel in order to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. Rikhter, 33, competed in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo after winning the gold medal at the 2019 European Games.

On Jan. 25, the day before Richter was set to leave for Jakarta for the ISSF World Cup, he received a message from the tournament’s organizers telling him that he will not be able to compete in Indonesia with Israeli symbols, including the Israeli flag on his official uniform and rifle, Alliance reported. His rifle is also engraved with the letters “ISR,” representing Israel.

World Cup organizers reportedly added that they would only allow Richter to participate with his weapon if he competes with identification symbols of the ISSF or the flag of the International Olympic Committee. Richter refused their demands and instead chose not to compete in the World Cup at all.

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“I will never accept to participate in a competition without the ISR on my competition suit, on my personal rifle and on the results screen,” he said in a statement reported by Alliance. “I do not understand how the Olympic movement approves the holding of international competitions and the brands identification of the countries the athletes represent.”

The Israeli shooter also criticized organizers for singling him out over “political problems.” He added, “If the Olympic movement, which advocates the existence of sports without distinctions of nationality, religion, race and sex, does not support its ideology, then what is its value? I don’t understand how the state is allowed to organize some sort of competition with a national identity restriction. If there was a competition in Israel and we would have boycotted a country — oh my god — all the athletes would have stood up and gone in a counter-protest.”

The Israel Shooting Federation and the ISSF did not reply to The Algemeiner‘s request for comment.

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