World Judo Must Honor Its Own Ethics Code—(Or Disband Themselves)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

OP-EDAN ISRAELI GOLD MEDALIST SHOWS UP INEXCUSABLE INTOLERANCE

World judo must honor its own ethics code, stop UAE’s anti-Israel discrimination

The emirate trampled all over the sport’s governing principles in preventing Israel’s team from competing under its own name and symbols

Israeli gold-medalist judoka Tal Flicker singing the Israeli national anthem despite local officials' refusal to play it at the Judo Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi, where local judo authorities banned all Israeli symbols, October 26, 2017. (YouTube screen capture)

Israeli gold-medalist judoka Tal Flicker singing the Israeli national anthem despite local officials’ refusal to play it at the Judo Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi, where local judo authorities banned all Israeli symbols, October 26, 2017. (YouTube screen capture)

Israel’s Tal Flicker is the current world No. 1 in judo’s U66 kg division, an established star who has won several world championship events this year.

On Thursday, Flicker, 25, added to his gold collection, defeating Nijat Shikhalizada of Azerbaijan in the Grand Slam Abu Dhabi. Accordingly, he took his place on the winner’s podium, gratefully accepted his gold medal, and stood straight for the playing of Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah.”

Except that, as Flicker knew would be the case, the organizers of this world tournament in the United Arab Emirates refused to play “Hatikvah.” Instead, Flicker and the rest of those in the hall and watching elsewhere heard the anthem of the International Judo Federation. Neither was the Israeli flag raised in pride of place. Rather, again, it was the IJF symbol that the organizers installed. (Likewise, there was no Israeli flag displayed for bronze medalists Gili Cohen, shortly before Flicker’s win on Thursday, and Tohar Butbul, on Friday.

IJF Code of Ethics (clause 2): ‘There shall be no discrimination between the participants on the basis of race, gender, ethnic origin, religion… or other grounds’

Flicker handled the snub with considerable aplomb. Shutting out what he would later describe as the “background noise” of the IJF anthem, he sung his own “Hatikvah.”

WATCH-DISGRACEFUL.
ISRAELI Tal Flicker presented with his gold medal at  without Israeli anthem or flag. Nice to see Tal singing something and I’m guessing it’s the @Ostrov_A

Speaking to Israeli TV from his hotel room afterwards, he said he’d made up his mind from the start that he’d sing “Hatikvah,” and dismissed the organizing nation’s insult. “The whole world knows that we’re from Israel, knows who we represent,” he said. “The fact that they hid our flag, it’s just a…” He paused, searching for the word. “It’s just a patch on our flag,” he said.

A day later, Tohar Butbul handled an Arab rival’s contempt with similar equanimity. Evidently undeterred that his defeated UAE opponent Rashad Almashjari refused to shake his proffered hand, Butbul, 23, progressed on through the tournament to wind up with the bronze in his category by defeating Italy’s Olympic champion Fabio Basile.

Adding insult to insult, the IJF has been partially complicit in this anti-Israeli discrimination. Its own website’s reporting on Flicker’s gold medal success described him (and still does in this article) as representing not Israel but, risibly, the IJF. “The IJF are in second place with one gold and one bronze medal,” it reported, ridiculously, on Thursday night. (By Friday evening, its medals table for the tournament was at least accurately showing Israel’s gold and two bronzes to have indeed been won by “Israel.”

Some might argue that Israel should not have participated in a tournament whose UAE hosts messed the team around regarding visas and informed the sport’s international administration in advance that Israelis would only be tolerated if they exhibited no sign whatsoever of being Israeli. But the Israeli thinking was that its excellent judokas emphatically should participate, and that they would hopefully strike a contrast, through sporting excellence and good grace, to the rudeness of the UAE organizers. And so it has proved.

But that emphatically should not be the end of the matter. When the UAE Judo Federation made plain ahead of the tournament that the Israeli team would not be allowed to compete under the Israeli flag, the IJF wrote to the hosts to demand that “all delegations, including the Israeli delegation, shall be treated absolutely equally in all aspects, without any exception.”

The UAE Judo Federation paid it absolutely no heed. Why would it? It had imposed the same discrimination against Israel’s judokas two years ago; Israel won two bronze medals in the 2015 tournament — which meant far fewer headlines than the unignorable gold-medal success of Tal Flicker.

The very word ‘judo’ means ‘gentle way’

Rather than Israelis facing the dilemma of whether to compete as unwanted intruders in events such as this, it now falls to the IJF to ensure that there is no discrimination at future tournaments, and that hosts who cannot abide by its requirement that all delegations be treated “absolutely equally” not be permitted to hold events. (Incidentally, “Palestine,” as an International Olympic Committee member, is one of the IJF’s 198 “member countries.” We can all argue long and hard over the differences or similarities, but if Israel wanted to host an IJF event, it would be required to treat Palestinian participants equally.)

A martial art with a 135-year history, judo is governed by etiquette designed to underline the importance of respect.  The very word “judo” means “gentle way.” There should be no place in the sport for those who do not embrace its spirit.

As the IJF’s own Code of Ethics (clause 2) states unequivocally, “There shall be no discrimination between the participants on the basis of race, gender, ethnic origin, religion, philosophical or political opinion, marital status or other grounds.”

The UAE trampled all over those principles this week. It should not permitted to do so again.

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Israeli Wins Judo Gold In UAE, Which Refuses To Play Anthem, Raise Flag

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israeli wins judo gold in UAE, which refuses to play anthem, raise flag

Tal Flicker and bronze-winner Gili Cohen forced to celebrate under international judo federation’s banner due to local prohibition on Israeli symbols

An Israeli judoka won a gold medal on Thursday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam judo tournament, but had to sing his own private “Hatikvah” because the organizers refused to play the Israeli national anthem.

He also had to celebrate his victory under the International Judo Federation’s flag, because the emirate banned the display of Israeli symbols.

Tournament organizers did not play Israel’s national anthem as Tal Flicker stood on the podium after receiving his medal in the men’s under-66 kilograms (145 pounds) category.

With the medal around his neck, Flicker sang his own “Hatikvah” while the International Judo Federation’s (IJF) anthem played in the background.

WATCH-DISGRACEFUL.
ISRAELI Tal Flicker presented with his gold medal at  without Israeli anthem or flag. Nice to see Tal singing something and I’m guessing it’s the @Ostrov_A

On the women’s side, Gili Cohen won bronze in the under-52 kilograms (114 pounds) class. The Israeli flag was not flown on her behalf either.

The entire Israeli team was required to compete without any Israeli identifying symbols, and had been told before the tournament that there would be no acknowledgement of their home country — a discriminatory policy imposed solely on the Israeli competitors.

Flicker said later that he made up his mind to sing his own “Hatikvah” on the podium from “the moment that I won the gold.”

“Israel is my country, and I’m proud to be Israeli,” he said, speaking to Channel 2 news from his hotel room. “The anthem that they played of the world federation was just background noise,” he said. “I was singing ‘Hatikvah’ from my heart.

“I’m proud of my country,” he said again. “The whole world knows that we’re from Israel, knows who we represent. The fact that they hid our flag, it’s just a patch on our flag.”

Asked whether he’d had reservations about competing in a tournament that would not recognize him and his colleagues as Israelis, Flicker said he had focused solely on winning a medal. Now that he’d done so, “I’m extremely happy.”

Ahead of the tournament on Monday, Flicker wrote on Facebook that even without the flag, “everyone in the world knows where we are from and what country we represent.”

“I am the most proud in the world to be Israeli,” he added.

The Israeli contestants were barred from wearing Israeli symbols on their uniforms at the tournament and were listed as representing the International Judo Federation.

Israeli Judoka Gili Cohen presented with her bronze medal at  but had to compete under @intjudofed flag because hosts wouldn’t allow any mention of the Jewish state! Mazeltov Gili.@Ostrov_A

The ban on Israeli symbols came despite the IJF’s demand before the tournament that the UAE treat Israeli athletes equally.

A letter from the IJF to the president of the UAE Judo Federation said “all delegations, including the Israeli delegation, shall be treated absolutely equally in all aspects, without any exception.”

It highlighted the body’s core ideals that “every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind.”

The letter was sent to the World Jewish Congress, which represents over 100 Jewish communities, and had asked the IJF to intervene and “protect the rights of the Israeli national judo team and keep the spirit of sport free of political discrimination.”

There was no comment Wednesday from the UAE, which has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

Muslim and Arab states or athletes often boycott Israeli competitors. An Egyptian judoka refused to shake hands with his Israeli opponent at the Rio Olympics last year. Tunisia’s tennis federation ordered the country’s top player to withdraw from a match against an Israeli opponent at a tournament in 2013.

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev said it was of “utmost importance” that her country’s athletes display the flag and sing the national anthem at international competitions. She said boycotting the competition would only “play into the hands of those refusing to recognize our existence,” and would hinder Israel’s future sporting achievements.

Israeli judokas were also banned from displaying any Israeli symbols at a 2015 tournament in Abu Dhabi.

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