The president of the Israeli Judo Association has thanked hosts of the Abu Dhabi Grand Event for the hospitality shown to the Israeli squad – even though they weren’t allowed to have their country’s name on their shirt – or have the Hatikvah played when Tal Flicker was awarded his gold medal.
Following the final day of competition, Moshe Ponte met with his UAE counterpart, His Excellency Mohammad Bin Thaloub Al Darei, in what was described by the International Judo Federation (IJF) as an “historic meeting” where Ponte “thanked his UAE counterpart for the hospitality that was shown to the Israel team in Abu Dhabi.”
Ponte met IJF President Marius Vizer, His Excellency Mohammad Bin Thaloub Al Darei and UAE Judo, Wrestling and Kickboxing Federation General Secretary Naser AL-Tameemi, where the group “shared greetings” and “a positive discussion” at the IPIC Arena.
Vizer said: “It was a gesture of courage, on #WorldJudoDay the President of the U.A.E Judo Federation President, His Excellency Mohammad Bin Thaloub Al Darei, and Aref AL-Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), apologised because of the UAE athletes not shaking hands with the Israel athletes and also congratulated the Israel team for their success here.
“Sometimes with courage, respect and politeness, you can solve tensions and conflicts, which have not been solved since many decades. I consider, that even without the flag and anthem of Israel, that their team have been treated very well with high respect during this event. Two years ago we achieved the first participation of Israel team in Abu Dhabi, now it’s the second time, but with a much better approach and I hope in the near future we can achieve the best condition of participation for the Israel teams.
“Such delicate issues between countries, governments and nations cannot be solved overnight and cannot be solved through the sport immediately.
“In the last years the IJF has made a lot of work and important steps for the participation and recognition of the Israeli team in countries like Morocco and Emirates and I hope soon we can break down more barriers for more tolerance between countries and nations to express the real value of the sport, friendship unity and solidarity.”
Israel’s delegation are due to fly back to Israel on Sunday having won five medals. Ori Sasson and Peter Paltchik claimed bronze on the final day of competition, following on from Gili Cohen and Tohar Butbul bronze wins and Tal Flicker’s gold medal, which he won on the opening day.