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Israelis can’t compete under their country’s flag in judo tournament

(JTA) – Israeli judokas participating in the Grand Slam event in Abu Dhabi will not be able to compete under their country’s flag. The team will be prevented from wearing the Israeli flag or any other national emblems on their uniform, including the designation ISR for Israel, and if they win a place on the podium they will not hear their national anthem, “Hatikvah,” the AFP news agency reported. Instead, they will be identified as competing as part of the International Judo Federation, or IJF.

Twelve Israelis are slated to participate in the tournament being held later this month in the United Arab Emirates, an Arab country with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations. Among Israel’s delegation will be Or Sasson, who won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016. During those games, Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby refused to shake hands with Sasson.

“The demand to appear without national symbols is contrary to the mandate of international sports associations, the main aim of which is to separate politics from sport, and strengthen sport as a bridge and connection between peoples, cultures and countries,” Miri Regev, Israel’s minister of culture and sport, wrote in a letter to the International Judo Federation’s president, Marius Vizer.

Eight Israelis competed under similar conditions during the same event held two years ago in Abu Dhabi.

CAP: Or Sasson of Israel celebrating his victory with fans after winning a bronze medal in judo (+100 kgs) at Carioca Arena 2 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 12, 2016. (Xavier Laine/Getty Images)


Israeli driver Alon Day races to first NASCAR championship

Alon Day, Aug. 12, 2016. (Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)

(JTA) – Israeli race car driver Alon Day has won his first NASCAR championship. Day finished first in the standings in the auto racing group’s European series, which ended Sunday with a race in Belgium. The Israeli was fourth in the race – he needed only to complete the first lap to take home the title after being well ahead in the rankings. He had finished second and third in the European series standings the past two seasons. “It is such an amazing feeling!” Day was quoted as saying in the racing website. “We were trying so hard the past three years to win this title; we won so many races but never the championship.” Day, 25, who grew up in Ashdod, has done the bulk of his training on computer-screen simulators because Israel did not have a motor sport race track until this year.

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