International Judo Federation claims sport played part in Israel establishing diplomatic relations with UAE

Judo acted as a catalyst in helping Israel establish diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the sport's international governing body has claimed.

In an editorial piece, published a day after an agreement between Israel and the UAE to establish full diplomatic relations was announced, the International Judo Federation (IJF) cites a sequence of events at a World Judo Tour event in Abu Dhabi in 2018, as helping to inspire the agreement.

The IJF say that prior to the Grand Slam event there was an unwillingness to either sound the national anthem of Israel or wave its flag if one of its athletes were successful on the international stage.

In the build-up to the event, IJF President Marius Vizer and treasurer Naser Al Tamimi, of Emirati descent, negotiated and mediated to ensure the Israeli team received equal treatment and recognition during the competition.

Vizer and Al Tamimi negotiated with the Emirati authorities and Al Tamimi helping broker negotiations between the Emirati authorities and the IJF.

The pair's efforts were rewarded on October 28 2018 when Israeli judoka Sagi Muki won gold in the under-81kg category.

Organisers invited then Israeli Sports Minister Miri Regev to hand over the medal to Muki. 

Regev accepted the invitation and in what the IJF reflects was "a historic moment" the Israeli anthem sounded in recognition of Muki's triumph.

The IJF describes the playing of the Israeli anthem as an "emotional moment" which reduced both Regev and Vizer to tears.

Reflecting on the moment, the IJF say they are "proud" of their contribution and "claim a share in this historic development".

Israel and the UAE announced on August 13 that they were establishing full diplomatic relations in a deal brokered by the United States.

Under the terms of the deal Israel was reportedly required to halt its contentious plan to annex occupied West Bank land sought by Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims the annexation plans are only on "temporary hold" at the request of the US.

The UAE is only the third Arab state to have established diplomatic relations with Israel, following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

The IJF have a consistent record of protecting Israeli judoka from discrimination from Arab nations. 

The IJF suspended Iran, who are currently at odds diplomatically with the UAE, from all competitive, administrative and social activities following an incident at last year's World Championships in Tokyo.

Pressure was allegedly applied by the Iranian Government on judoka Saeid Mollaei to avoid potentially facing Muki in the final of the Championships.

Mollaei later sought political asylum in Germany and now been cleared to compete internationally for Mongolia.

Copyrights © 2018 JUDO UNION OF ASIA. All Rights Reserved.