THE BIG PICTURE: Israel allowed to compete in IJF events in UAE

What appears to be a welcome breakthrough in Middle Eastern sports relations was announced by the International Judo Federation this week under the heading of “Israelis welcome to the Abu Dhabi Judo Grand Slam.”

Last July, the IJF suspended the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in the United Arab Emirates and the Tunis Grand Prix in Tunisia for its refusal to allow Israeli athletes to either compete at all (by refusing entry visas for its athletes) or to compete in their national uniforms and have their flag raised or national anthem played during victory ceremonies.

The IJF required that both countries provide a “governmental guarantee is given to ensure free and equal participation of all nations at the said events.”

The Emirates finally came through on 2 September, as the IJF posted a statement noting that the “UAE Judo Federation confirmed in an official letter sent to the IJF that all nations participating in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam will have the possibility to do so in equal conditions.

“The historic decision will thus allow all nations to display their national insignia and national anthem, including Israel. …

“Consequently, the International Judo Federation is hereby re-instating the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam to the IJF calendar. … The Abu Dhabi Grand Slam 2018 will take place from 27-29 October.”

After preventing Israeli junior taekwondo athletes from competing last May, Tunisia’s bid for the 2022 Youth Olympic Games was frozen by the IOC. That bid was reinstated after the Tunisian government sent a letter guaranteeing that Israeli athletes would be able to compete in the country without restrictions in the future.

The IJF’s calendar for 2019 shows that the Tunis Grand Prix will be held from 18-20 January.