Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev is planning on joining the Israeli national judo team when it travels to Abu Dhabi for a Grand Prix tournament later this month.
It is still not clear whether Regev will be allowed to travel with the Israeli delegation, however, since the United Arab Emirates does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
The International Judo Federation has previously stripped both the U.A.E. and Tunisia of the right to host Grand Prix tournaments, following their refusal to allow Israeli participants to compete under the national flag. In August, both countries promised the IJF that the Israeli flag would be flown at future events and they were reinstated. Several Israeli politicians, including Regev, described the decision as a major diplomatic victory for Israel.
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If Regev does indeed join the Israeli delegation in Abu Dhabi, she is expected to finalized plans for Tel Aviv to host its own Grand Prix event.
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In recent weeks, however, members of the Israeli Olympic Committee have been critical of Regev, accusing her of ramping up expectations by interfering in the affairs of the local judo federation. This, they say, was a contributing factor behind Israel’s poor showing in the recent World Championships.
According to a statement issued by the Culture and Sports Ministry, “Regev is grateful for the invitation extended by IJF President Marius Vizer to attend the historical tournament in Abu Dhabi, where, for the first time, Israeli athletes will be allowed to compete under their national flag and to hear their national anthem played. The goal of the minister’s visit is first and foremost to sign a historic agreement for Israel to host a Grand Prix event, which will be attended by the best judokas in the world. The issue is currently being examined and the minister is very keen to accept the invitation.”