An international judo competition in the United Arab Emirates has been reinstated after organisers promised that all participating nations, including Israel, will compete under equal conditions at the three-day event next month.
The International Judo Federation (IJF), the sport’s governing body, confirmed in a statement on Monday that the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam 2018, which was suspended in July, will now take place from October 27-29.
IJF said the “historic decision will allow all nations to display their national insignia and national anthem, including Israel”.
Lauding the commitment by the UAE Judo Federation, which made its pledge in a letter, IJF said “the fair play, mutual friendship and respect” shown by Emirati authorities represent a “huge step forward in establishing and promoting peaceful relationships between all nations of the world”.
In July, the federation had stripped both the UAE and Tunisia from hosting their respective tournaments over discrimination at past events, urging the two nations to guarantee equal treatment of all member nations.
IJF, in its statement at the time, did not specifically mention Israel being denied raising its flag and playing the national anthem in the two Arab countries.
At the Abu Dhabi event last year, Israeli athletes competed under the IJF flag due to the UAE’s non-recognition of Israel as a state.
The UAE, like many Arab countries, does not have diplomatic and economic relations with Israel. But there have been signs of normalisation of ties, especially on the sporting field.
Miri Regev, Israel’s culture and sports minister, welcomed the UAE’s decision.
“The first flag of Israel in Abu Dhabi. Honour!” she wrote on Twitter on Monday.
“Israeli athletes will now be accorded the respect and dignity that all other athletes are accustomed to,” Regev said in a video message on her Facebook page.
Recent US media reports have also revealed security cooperation between Israel and the UAE.
UAE leaders have allegedly used Israeli spyware to spy on Gulf leaders, including the Qatari emir.
The steps of informal normalisation between Israel and UAE come as artists and sports teams refuse to participate in activities held in Israel in protest against its occupation of the Palestinian territories.