This year when Tal Flicker, an Israeli athlete, received his gold medal at the Judo Grand Slam held in Abu Dhabi, the Israeli flag was not raised and the national anthem, Hatikvah, was not played. Instead, the flag of the IJF (International Judo Federation) was raised and their official music was played as well.
This was because prior to the competition, the United Arab Emirate, a country that does not recognize the state of Israel, released a statement forbidding the Israeli delegation from showing any representation of their country. This was the second time this occurred in Abu Dhabi, as two years ago Israelis had competed under similar conditions at this same event. They claimed that it was for the safety of the athletes. In reality, it is the newest incident of veiled anti-Zionism that has become more prevalent in recent years.
Tal Flicker was one of twelve athletes competing in this competition, and one of five to earned medals. While they competed, the Israeli flag was not displayed on their Judo uniforms, and it did not say ISR (Israel) next to their names on the scoreboard. Similarly, when the athletes stood on the podium to receive their medals, the Israeli flag was not raised behind them. And when Tal Flicker received his gold medal, Hatikvah was not played.
However, as the music played, Flicker, as shown in the video above, can be seen singing Hatikvah to himself. After his win, Flicker released a video where he spoke about why he responded in that way. He said, “Israel is my country and I’m proud to be an Israeli. The anthem of the world championship which was played was just background noise. In my heart I sang the national anthem. I’m proud of my country.” Click to view his full statement.