Israeli judoka denied anthem, flag after winning gold in Abu Dhabi contest
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An Israeli judoka sung the national anthem to himself after winning gold at the judo grand slam in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday after organizers refused to play it or display his national flag.
After Israel's Tal Flicker, currently world number two, bested Azerbaijan's Nijat Shikhalizada to win gold in the men's under-66 kilogram event at the peak judo competition, he took the podium for the medal ceremony.
In a video of the moment released by the International Judo Federation (IJF), the commentator can be heard stumbling as he realizes that the "national anthem" that will be played for Flicker will in fact be that of the IJF, as alongside the national flags of the athletes he bested, the IJF flag fluttered over Flicker's head.
"As soon as I won I was very excited and decided to sing Hatikvah because I am proud to be an Israeli," he told Channel Two from his hotel room in the capital Abu Dhabi after the competition concluded, "this is my country, the anthem of the [IJF] was a background noise, the whole world knows that I represent Israel."
The presence of the Israelis at the event, the jewel in the crown of the sport, had already marred its opening.
The UAE acceded to allow Israelis to compete after the IJF president Marius Vizer "that at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, all delegations, including the Israeli delegation, shall be treated absolutely equally in all aspects, without any exception.”
However the sheikdom, which has no diplomatic ties with Israel, demanded that the Israeli players do not display their flags and compete under the aegis of the IJF.
Another Israeli judoka, took home bronze in the under-55kg women's event.
A spokesman for the IJF has been contacted for comment.
Wow. Israeli wins gold in Judo in Abu Dhabi, which refuses to show Israeli flag or play its national anthem. So he sings it quietly himself. pic.twitter.com/EuJbcP4wTu— (((Yair Rosenberg))) (@Yair_Rosenberg) October 26, 2017
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We are so proud of you. They'll never take our soul. Congrats.