SPORT AND POLITICS have been in the news again this week, and it won’t come as too much of a surprise to learn that Israeli athletes have suffered as a result of the two mixing. The country may have had two bronze medallists at the Judo Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi at the weekend, but they were unable to compete under the Israeli flag, or even have the Star of David on their uniform. Moshe Ponte, the chairman of the Israel Judo Federation, said he was forced to accept the request made by tournament organisers due to security concerns. From the judo mat to the shooting range, the International Olympic Committee this week revoked the Olympic Qualification status of the Asian Shooting Championships after tournament organisers in Kuwait refused to issue a visa for Yair Davidovich, the technical delegate from the International Sports Shooting Federation. The IOC, to their immense credit, reacted accordingly, and in a statement, said: “The denial of a visa is against the non-discrimination principle of the Olympic Charter.” Enough is now enough. Miri Regev , Minister of Culture and Sport has said she will call an emergency meeting with the heads of local sports associations to discuss the issue and has asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to help her in the fight to avoid similar incidents in the future. She said: “The banning of the Israel flag in an international competition of this magnitude is a failure which I will not overlook. I plan to recruit all the forces in Israel in order to prevent a ban on Israeli sport, and the values and symbols of this country. We will not compromise on this matter.” Stern words which will hopefully lead to stern and swift action.
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