(JTA) – The International Judo Federation has called on the United Arab Emirates to treat Israeli athletes equally during this week’s Grand Slam tournament.
A letter from the International Judo Federation, or IJF, to the president of the UAE Judo Federation obtained by The Associated Press and published on Wednesday says “all delegations, including the Israeli delegation, shall be treated absolutely equally in all aspects, without any exception.”
The letter also says that the IJF statutes “clearly provide that the IJF shall not discriminate on the ground of race, religion, gender or political opinion.”
The letter comes after news that the team will be prevented from wearing the Israeli flag or any other national emblems on their uniform, including the designation ISR for Israel, and if they win a place on the podium they will not hear their national anthem, “Hatikvah.” Instead, they will be identified as competing as part of the IJF.
The organizers claim security issues prevent the Israeli team from being identified as such. Eight Israelis competed under similar conditions during the same event held two years ago in Abu Dhabi.
The 12 Israelis participating in the two-day tournament that begins Thursday arrived in the United Arab Emirates one day later than planned, on Tuesday, due to problems with their visas. UAE and Israel do not have diplomatic relations.
Among Israel’s delegation will be Or Sasson, who won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016. During those games, Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby refused to shake hands with Sasson.