Judo Federation suspends competitions in UAE & Tunisia over stance on Israel

Judo Federation suspends competitions in UAE & Tunisia over stance on Israel
The International Judo Federation (IJF) has suspended two events which were scheduled to take place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Tunisia due to the countries’ failure to guarantee equal treatment to Israeli competitors.

“Based on experiences from previous years and in an attempt to take a firm and constructive stance in the fight against discrimination in sport, the International Judo Federation announces that it will suspend two of its events, namely the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and the Tunis Grand Prix,” the IJF said in a statement published on the body’s website on Friday.

There was no direct reference to Israel in the statement, but the IJF mentioned discriminative episodes involving the country, when the display of Israeli national emblems and the playing of the anthem were prohibited.

Last year, the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam organizers refused to hang Israel's flag at the venue where the competition was held. The playing of the Israeli national anthem was also prohibited during the tournament, and Israeli competitors were obliged to compete under the flag of the IJF due to the UAE’s non-recognition of Israel.

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The UAE does not have any diplomatic or economic relations with Israel as the majority of Arab state governments don’t recognize it as a state. Earlier this year, Tunisia banned Israeli competitors from participating in the taekwondo World Junior Championships in Hammamet.

The judo governing body asked the two organizers to provide a letter of guarantee ensuring equal participation for all the competitors. As neither country fulfilled the request, the IJF decided to suspend the tournaments until all athletes would have “the right to participate in their events in equal conditions.”

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The IJF said it understands that the problem stems from complicated political issues with an historical context, but added that “politics should not have any interference in sports and that sports should be a reflection of human respect, understanding and mutual cooperation.”