Qatar: Israeli wins fencing gold medal as ‘Hatikvah’ plays

Freilich wore a shirt featuring his country’s flag and the words Am Yisrael Chai.


“Hatikvah,” the Jewish state’s national anthem, sounded in a Doha sporting arena this week after Israeli fencer Yuval Freilich won a gold medal at the International Fencing Federation’s Grand Prix, which ended on Wednesday in the Qatari capital.

Freilich wore a shirt featuring his country’s flag and the words “Am Yisrael Chai” (“the people of Israel live”) as he defeated Italy’s Federico Vismara, moving the 29-year-old Israeli athlete one step closer to competing in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Freilich, who grew up in Neve Daniel in Gush Etzion, Judea, is the son of Australian immigrants and has been competing since age eight. He took home gold medals in teen tournaments in 2014 and 2015, as well as a silver plaque in the under-23 class in 2016. In 2019, he became the first Israeli to win a European championship.

“Yuval Freilich made an impressive achievement in a high-level, world-class tournament and is very close to achieving the criteria for the Olympics in Paris, which is a huge success,” Gili Lustig, the head of Israel’s Olympic committee, told Israel’s Channel 14 News on Wednesday.

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“The win in Qatar and waving the Israeli flag in times like these on this unique stage is Israeli pride at its peak,” he added.

While Israel and Qatar do not have formal diplomatic relations, thousands of Israelis traveled directly and indirectly to the Gulf Arab state for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and arrangements were made to send a team of Israeli diplomats to deal with any complications that might emerge.

Qatar, which hosts the leadership of Hamas and has provided the terrorist group with hundreds of millions of dollars, also played a significant role in mediating the release of 105 hostages from the Gaza Strip in November. Another hostages-for-ceasefire deal is currently being negotiated.