The United States’ main Jewish civil rights organization on Friday welcomed the announcement that Israel’s international judo team will be able to compete without restrictions at a major forthcoming tournament in the United Arab Emirates.
“Confirmation that Israeli athletes will be permitted to participate openly, under their own flag, in the upcoming Abu Dhabi Grand Slam tournament is welcome news,” Jonathan Greenblatt — the CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League — said in a statement.
In 2017, Israeli judoka Tal Flicker won the gold medal at the Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi, but the country refused to raise Israel’s flag or play Israel’s national anthem, which Flicker sung on the podium by himself. The International Judo Federation (IJF) confirmed this week that a “historic decision” had been made that “will allow all nations, including Israel, to be accompanied by their national symbols and anthem.”
“The IJF salutes the efforts of the UAE for taking a major step toward promoting peaceful relations between all countries of the world,” the group said in a statement.
Greenblatt added that the ADL “looks forward to monitoring the implementation of these important commitments next month.” He also called the organizers of the Tunis Grand Prix judo tournament — cancelled by the IJF for its discrimination against Israeli competitors — “to take similar remedial steps.”
Greenblatt recalled that “it was deeply painful watching (Tal Flicker) have to mouth the words to the Israeli anthem ‘Hatikva,’ while his hosts insisted on playing the IJF’s anthem instead.” He continued: “If another Israeli athlete wins the gold again in Abu Dhabi next month, I am optimistic that the organizers will play the right anthem this time.”