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Press Release

ADL: Removal of Israeli Flag at Swimming World Cup in Qatar Unacceptable

Update (10/29/13): Following the initial incident, FINA reacted swiftly to ensure that Israeli symbols were on display for the remainder of the event. FINA also issued a warning to the Doha organizers, and pledged to take steps so that similar acts would not occur again in future competitions. 

New York, NY, October 22, 2013 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today said it was unacceptable for the Qatari sponsors of the FINA Swimming World Cup to remove an Israeli flag from public display.

The Israeli flag was reportedly removed from outside the Hamad Aquatic Center during the international swimming tournament, which was held in Doha on October 20th and 21st.  When Israel’s swimming champion Amit Ivry competed, her name appeared next to a blank white flag in on-screen graphics.  The Israeli flag was raised, however, inside the aquatics center for the medal ceremony when Ivry was awarded the silver in the 100-meter individual medley.

Photos of the Israeli flag outside the event led to demands on Twitter that organizers remove the Israeli symbols and called for boycotts of Israeli athletes.

“While it is notable that Israeli swimmers competed in the Swimming World Cup, the Qatari organizers surrendered to complaints and effectively whitewashed Israeli symbols from the competition,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  “As more and more Arab countries host international sporting events in which Israeli athletes compete, this is an unacceptable gesture.”

Mr. Foxman continued, “International sporting federations, who have guidelines mandating that all qualifying athletes be permitted to compete, must also now ensure that host countries guarantee that all participants and national teams – regardless of their nationalities – be treated equally, and that their national origin be fully recognized.  Organizers of international sporting events cannot permit public opinion to politicize competitions, nor sully competitors.”

Israeli athletes have been barred from competitions in many Arab countries. In 2009, despite the guidelines of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), Israeli Tennis star Shahar Peer was denied a visa to enter the United Arab Emirates and compete in the Dubai Tennis Championship.  The UAE was forced to pay a fine.

The FIFA World Cup is scheduled to be played in Qatar in 2022.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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