The President of the Israeli Swimming Association has said he will consider taking legal action against Qatari authorities if he doesn’t receive a satisfactory answer following the Gulf State’s treatment over Israeli swimmers at last week’s World Cup event.
Releasing a statement after the tournament was marred by Israel’s name and flag censored in pre-race introductions and television broadcasts, the refusal to announce Israel over the loudspeaker in the arena, and the Israeli flag being taken down from outside the venue, Cornel Marculescu, chief executive of FINA, swimming’s world governing body, said that the local organising committee were to blame, and that Qatari officials had been officially warned over their behaviour, and that they would “not happen anymore.”
However, unsatisfied with that response, Noam Zwi told the Jewish News: “I received an apology from FINA but didn’t receive anything from Qatar. We’ve asked for a full explanation and we want to know who gave the orders. It seemed to me someone much higher than the association of Qatar gave these orders. We want to know who gave it, want a full and honest answer as to who gave it and that it won’t happen again. A statement saying it won’t happen again is not enough. If they won’t tell us who gave the order, we’re going to go to the FINA bureau and demand to take legal steps against the Qatars.”
Saying he had spoken to Marcluescu prior to the start of the tournament, he said: “I spoke with Cornel before the competition and asked him to make sure this wouldn’t happen. I didn’t mention the flag to him because I didn’t believe they would do such a thing. I did tell him I didn’t want to hear ISR – that they either don’t mention any countries, or mention them all and referring to us as Israel, not ISR. He told me ‘sure, it won’t happen’. On the first day it was fine, the second it wasn’t.”
Also revealing how Israeli government officials put pressure on Zwi to make an official protest outside the headquarters of FINA in Switzerland, he said: “We were approached by some government officials in Israel, they told me it was a big offence to them and how it was making newspaper headlines around the world, but I told them to leave it to me. They wanted to send the Israeli ambassador to make a protest at the FINA office in Lucerne, but I told them I don’t agree to it. I can’t tell them what to do, but I gave them my view on it.”