“The demand to appear without symbols is contrary to the mandate of international sports associations,” Israeli Minister Regev said of Abu Dhabi’s ban on displaying Israeli national symbols at a Judo competition.
Abu Dhabi is barring Israel’s judo team from donning national symbols and playing the Jewish state’s national anthem during a major tournament in the country.
Additionally, the 12 Israeli athletes participating in the Abu Dhabi Judo Grand Slam tournament from October 26-28 cannot include the letters “ISR” to identify their nationality on their uniforms.
“The demand to appear without symbols is contrary to the mandate of international sports associations, the main aim of which is to separate politics from sport,” wrote Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev in a letter to Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“It is the obligation of any country which has the privilege of hosting an international competition to allow the competing athletes to represent the country honorably while ensuring their security,” she wrote.
During the Grand Slam competition hosted in Abu Dhabi in 2015, Israeli judo competitors accepted similar conditions to participate, wearing uniforms in the colors of the International Judo Federation rather than the Israeli flag or anything suggesting their nationality.
At the Rio Olympic Games in August 2016, Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby was booed by spectators for refusing to shake the hand of Israeli judoka Or Sasson, after losing to Sasson in the first round of the men’s over 100kg competition.