World Cup host Qatar blanks out Israeli flag

By Bernard Josephs, October 24, 2013

The suitability of Qatar as a site for international sport was called into question this week after the organisers of the Swimming World Cup in the capital, Doha, failed to display the name “Israel” during broadcasts of the competition and the Israeli flag was removed from outside the venue.

The removal of the Israeli flag followed a tweet by a local group complaining about its presence in public.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder expressed dismay and said that Qatar’s failure to respect “the neutrality of international sportsmanship” had forfeited its right as the chosen host for the 2022 soccer World Cup.

“That event should be moved from Qatar,” he said, adding that the oil-rich Gulf state should “stop pandering to the worst sort of Arab rejectionism.”

According to some reports, several races at the swimming championship on Sunday failed to display the Star of David on computer graphics for events in which Israelis were taking part. Instead, a white flag or the letters “IRS” were put in its place.

In addition, some races in which Israelis competed were not broadcast by Qatar television or recorded on the scoreboard, a move which caused confusion among other competitors.

Top Israeli swimmer Gal Nevo wrote about his experiences on Facebook: “The name ‘Israel’ was not mentioned throughout the competition and the editors of the television broadcast were instructed to do everything in their power to remove us and our flag from the frame.”

However, the Israeli flag was shown when Amit Ivry went to the podium to receive a silver medal for the women’s 100-metre medley.

A Qatari official failed to respond when asked for comment by the JC about the removal of the Israeli flag and whether Israel’s football team could expect similar treatment if they qualified for the 2022 World Cup.

Last updated: 5:45pm, October 24 2013