Israeli judo glory in Abu Dhabi – minus the flags

Israeli judaokas took home two bronze medals on Saturday at a tournament in the United Arabs Emirates (UAE).

At the Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, Yarden Gerbi and Sagi Muki brought honor to the Jewish state. Both Gerbi versus her opponent from Holland and Muki against a judaoka from Belgium won by ippon, namely throwing their opponent to the ground on their backs in the highest scoring technique. 

However, they were forced to appear under the World Judo Federation flag, and not under the Israeli flag, due to the discrimination of the tournament's hosts. The flag was likewise forbidden from their uniforms, under "security" excuses.

The Israel Judo Association said that the move was a compromise, and that otherwise the judaokas would have simply been barred from the tournament altogether.

At the medal distribution ceremony, the Israeli flag was the only one glaringly not present among the flags of the winners.

"Even though the Israeli flag wasn't here I felt that I represented an entire state," Sagi Muki said after the victory. "When they told me that I can't compete with the Israeli flag, it only gave me more motivation to show that we can't be erased, that we will always be the highest possible."

"I'm happy that I succeeded in winning bronze, and even though there was no flag, I felt that I fought for the state. I wasn't afraid to come here."

The exclusive tournament will award the two Israelis critical points for the coming 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.


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