An Israeli judoka bagged a gold medal on Thursday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam judo tournament but was forced to sing the national anthem to himself after organisers refused to play it.
Up-and-comer, Tal Flicker, also had to commemorate his victory under the International Judo Federation’s flag as Israeli symbols were banned from the event, as they are every year.
Tournament organisers snubbed both the Israeli flag and anthem, leaving Tal Flicker to sing the Hatikvah quietly to himself as he stood in his winner’s podium after dominating the men’s under-66 kilograms category.
Watch as Flicker overcomes the blow dealt to him by maintaining pride and composure:
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
The entire Israeli team had to compete in the tournament without any Israeli symbolism on their clothing.
Prior to the games, they’d been told there would be no acknowledgement of their home country.
No other nation was treated as such.
Tal later told Channel 2, according to The Times of Israel:
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. 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.
This is not the first time Israeli sportsmen have been snubbed.
אין דבר יותר מתוק מרגע הניצחון, ההרגשה הזאת שעשית את זה בשביל עצמך,הנבחרת המשפחה וכמובן בשביל המדינה . אני בטוח ששמעתם בתקשורת על הבלגנים העיכובים והשאלה אם נגיע ואיך נתחרה. עם הדגל או בלי הדגל אני אתמודד מול הקשיים ומול כל יריב שיגיע נעשה הכל בשביל להגיע לאבו דאבי ולסיים על הפודיום. בעולם כולם יודעים מאיפה אנחנו ואיזה מדינה אנחנו מייצגים. אני הכי גאה בעולם להיות ישראלי 🇮🇱
At the Rio Olympics last year, an Egyptian judoka refused to shake hands with his Israeli opponent, while Tunisia’s tennis federation ordered the country’s best player to pull out of a match against and Israeli competitor at a 2013 tournament.
The UAE, which has no diplomatic relations with Israel, is yet to comment.
Tal took to his Instagram after the tournament, speaking of his pride at representing his country.
Good for you, Tal.