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Israeli athlete sings national anthem himself in Abu Dhabi

An Israeli athlete who won gold at a Judo Grand Slam event in Abu Dhabi sang the national anthem himself, after organisers refused to play it during his ceremony. 

Rising Judoka star Tal Flicker decided to sing the Hatikvah after organisers in the conservative Islamic country snubbed the Israeli anthem and flag.

When he took to the podium as champion, his anthem was substituted with that of the International Judo Federation, leaving the athlete to sing it to himself quietly.  

Israeli athlete Tal Flicker (pictured), who won gold at a Judo Grand Slam event in Abu Dhabi, sung the national anthem himself, after organisers in Abu Dhabi, UAE, refused to play it during his ceremony (pictured on the podium in Abu Dhabi, UAE)

Some 18 predominately Islamic countries in the Arab League do not recognise the State of Israel, and continue to boycott it diplomatically and economically.

The dignified moment of quiet defiance struck a chord on social media with many praising Flicker’s act, and condemning the ‘racist’ event organisers.

Speaking after the event, the 25-year-old athlete told Israeli’s Channel 2 news: ‘Israel is my country, and I’m proud to be Israeli. 

‘The anthem that they played of the world federation was just background noise. I was singing HaTikvah from my heart.

‘I’m proud of my country,’ he added, ‘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.’

Rising Judoka star Tal Flicker decided to sing the Hatikvah after organisers in the conservative Islamic country refused to recognise the Israeli anthem or flag (from a tournament in Budapest, Hungary)

Rising Judoka star Tal Flicker decided to sing the Hatikvah after organisers in the conservative Islamic country refused to recognise the Israeli anthem or flag (from a tournament in Budapest, Hungary)

Meanwhile, when female Israeli athlete Gili Cohen (left) won bronze in her under-52 kilograms (114 pounds) class, the Israeli flag was not flown on her behalf either (pictured in Abu Dhabi)

Meanwhile, when female Israeli athlete Gili Cohen (left) won bronze in her under-52 kilograms (114 pounds) class, the Israeli flag was not flown on her behalf either (pictured in Abu Dhabi)

Meanwhile, when female Israeli athlete Gili Cohen won bronze in her under-52 kilograms (114 pounds) class, the Israeli flag was not flown on her behalf either.

Israeli athletes have suffered a spate of discriminating acts at high profile sporting events.

Prior to Thursday’s events, the most recent was at the Rio Olympics in 2016, when Egyptian Judoka athlete Islam El Shehaby refused to shake hands with an Israeli star who bested him.

When he took to the podium as champion, his anthem was substituted with that of the International Judo Federation, leaving the athlete to sing it to himself quietly (from a tournament in Budapest, Hungary)

When he took to the podium as champion, his anthem was substituted with that of the International Judo Federation, leaving the athlete to sing it to himself quietly (from a tournament in Budapest, Hungary)

While some Lebanese athletes refused to board the same bus as Israeli athletes at the same event. 

Tunisia’s tennis federation ordered the country’s top player to withdraw from a match against an Israeli opponent at a tournament in 2013. 

The act comes after the International Judo Federation demanded the United Arab Emirates treat Israeli athletes equally.

Prior to the anthem snub, it was reported that the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam was intending on banning Israeli athletes from wearing their country’s symbols on uniforms.

The dignified moment of quiet defiance struck a chord on social media with many praising Flicker's act, and condemning the 'racist' event organisers (from a tournament in Budapest, Hungary)

The dignified moment of quiet defiance struck a chord on social media with many praising Flicker’s act, and condemning the ‘racist’ event organisers (from a tournament in Budapest, Hungary)

A letter from the IJF to the president of the UAE Judo Federation obtained by The Associated Press 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.’

Speaking after the event, the 25-year-old athlete told Israeli's Channel 2 news: 'Israel is my country, and I'm proud to be Israeli.' (from a tournament in Budapest, Hungary)

Speaking after the event, the 25-year-old athlete told Israeli’s Channel 2 news: ‘Israel is my country, and I’m proud to be Israeli.’ (from a tournament in Budapest, Hungary)

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

Israel’s Sports and Culture 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. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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