Olympian Shachar Sagiv to become first Israeli to compete in Saudi Arabia

Shachar Sagiv will compete in the Super League Triathlon.

By World Israel News Staff

Olympic triathlete Shachar Sagiv will become the first Israeli athlete to compete in Saudi Arabia this weekend, in what has been hailed as another indication of warming ties between the two countries.

Sagiv will compete in the fifth round of the Super League Triathlon in the Red Sea coastal city of Neom. A triathlon is an endurance sport which includes cycling, swimming, and running.

Saudi Arabia does not allow Israeli citizens to enter, but the Gulf kingdom has recently opened its borders for certain Israelis, including businesspeople, in a special dispensatory move.

“I am very excited to be a trailblazer and become the first Israeli athlete to compete in Saudi Arabia,” Sagiv told the Sport1 website. “This is proof that sports connect peoples and countries.”

“I hope to have a good competition, move up in the general ranking at the end of the race and retain first place in the cycling competition,” he added.

While Riyadh has repeatedly stated that it will not normalize ties with Israel until it first makes peace with the Palestinians, the two countries have covertly cooperated on security issues related to Iran.

In August, a commercial flight to Tel Aviv flew over Saudi airspace for the first time after the kingdom opened its airspace to Israeli aircraft.

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The move came after Israel granted permission to Egypt to return control to Saudi Arabia of two islands in the strategic Straits of Tiran leading into the Red Sea, which were demilitarized since the Six Day War in 1967.

Winners of the Super League Triathlon win a cash prize of to $1.5 million.

Sagiv and his younger brother Ran broke Israeli records in the 2020 Tokyo Games.