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October 22, 2013 0

Flag At Swim Competition In Qatar Triggers Hatred Toward Israel

qatar-israeli-flag-swim-fina

Screen­shot of Twit­ter post denounc­ing dis­play of Israeli flag at the FINA Swim­ming World Cup in Qatar.

Pho­tos of an Israeli flag at the FINA Swim­ming World Cup in Doha, Qatar, trig­gered a wave of angry reac­tions on Twit­ter, includ­ing calls for future sports boy­cotts against Israel.

While it is notable that Israeli swim­mers par­tic­i­pated in the Octo­ber 20–21 com­pe­ti­tion — includ­ing Amit Ivry, win­ner of a sil­ver medal - hun­dreds of Twit­ter users, includ­ing Qatari jour­nal­ists, took to Twit­ter to express shock at their government’s deci­sion to allow the Israeli flag to fly out­side the Hamad Aquatic Cen­ter along with flags rep­re­sent­ing var­i­ous other coun­tries com­pet­ing in the event.

Many of the Tweets con­demned the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Israeli team and demanded the removal of the flag form out­side the Aquatic Cen­ter. Oth­ers Tweets protested what they described as the “nor­mal­iz­ing of rela­tions with the Zion­ist Entity.” Sev­eral users posted an image of a poster that reads, “Israel not-welcomed in Qatar.”

Reports from the region indi­cate that the Israeli flag was taken down before the end of the event in response to the reac­tion on Twit­ter. A graphic of the Israeli flag was also dis­torted on the tele­vi­sion broad­cast of the event when an Israeli swim­mer medaled.

One Twit­ter user wrote, “Boy­cott should become uni­ver­sal; one of the results should be to ban the Zion­ist Entity from play­ing in the World Cup with an offi­cial FIFA res­o­lu­tion.” The FIFA World Cup is sched­uled to be played in Qatar in 2022.

This inci­dent raises con­cerns over Qatar’s abil­ity to host inter­na­tional sport­ing events with­out suc­cumb­ing to pres­sure from those who seek to politi­cize sports.

As more Arab coun­tries host inter­na­tional sport­ing events, some Israeli ath­letes have encoun­tered chal­lenges.  Most inter­na­tional sport­ing fed­er­a­tions man­date that host coun­tries allow all qual­i­fy­ing ath­letes to com­pete. How­ever, in 2009, the United Arab Emi­rates refused to issue a visa to Israeli ten­nis star Sha­har Peer to enable her to com­pete in the Dubai Ten­nis Cham­pi­onship, a stop on the Women Ten­nis Asso­ci­a­tion (WTA) tour. The bar­ring of Peer vio­lated the guide­lines of the WTA (which were sub­se­quently tight­ened fur­ther) and the UAE was forced to pay a fine.

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