Tuesday, June 2, 2020 -
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Judo takes intolerance to the mat

The arena of tolerance and intolerance has widened over the decades. The arena used to embrace housing, public accommodations, bank loans and employment. Now it includes language, policing, sentencing — and sports. True, in boxing there was Jack Johnson, the heavyweight champion (1908-1915) against whom a “great white hope” was sought, and in baseball there were Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey, dramatically breaking racial barriers (1947). Even so, in more recent decades on the international stage, amateur sports have been robbed of their fellowship, transformed into a repugnant stage for hatred of Israel.

First came the terrorist attack by “Black September” on the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Then, sportsmen, belying their identity, have refused to compete against Israelis, or refused to shake Israelis’ hands, or even refused to participate in a tournament that included Israeli competitors even if they were not direct competitors. How refreshing, then, to report that the International Judo Federation has cancelled two international tournaments in the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia for failing to guarantee equal treatment of all athletes — that is, of Israeli athletes.

“The International Judo Federation’s Executive Committee decided to suspend both the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and the Tunis Grand Prix until governmental guarantee is given to ensure free and equal participation of all nations at the said events.”

Israel wasn’t mentioned specifically. It didn’t have to be. No other nationality is subjected to such unsportsmanlike, unequal, intolerant behavior.

Iran, take note.

Egypt, take note.

Palestinians, take note.

You, offenders in the past, will join UAE and Tunisia if the judo leadership takes told. No sports federation should tolerate intentional bias in its ranks. No bigoted athlete should be allowed to introduce hate into the ring or the ball park, onto the gym floor or the playing field.

The real losers become all of the other athletes. When anti-Israel athletes use the sports arena to express their animus, they may think they are targeting only the Israelis, but it is all athletes and the good name of sports generally that they degrade.

To allow sporting events that sponsor, witness or tolerate intolerance to proceed is wrong. There is no other way to root out the unsportsmanlike competitors. Kudos to the International Judo Federation.

Copyright © 2018 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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