IJF suspends events in Tunisia, Abu Dhabi

The International Judo Federation (IJF) has opted to suspend scheduled events in Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over the treatment of Israeli athletes in both countries.

The Tunisian capital of Tunis had been due to host an IJF Grand Prix next year, while Abu Dhabi in the UAE was scheduled to stage the Grand Slam competition in October this year.

However, concerns had been raised over the participation of Israeli athletes at both events. The IJF highlighted that Article 1.2 in its statutes says the IJF “shall not discriminate on the ground of race, religion, gender or political opinion”.

The IJF said it wrote to the organisers of both events to “provide a letter of guarantee”, signed by each country’s government, that all IJF member nations would have the “right to participate in their events in equal conditions”.

However, having confirmed that “no positive answer” has been received to date, the IJF has moved to suspend the Tunisia and UAE events “until governmental guarantee is given to ensure free and equal participation of all nations at the said events”.

The IJF added in a statement: “The IJF is aware that the situation and incidents registered are due to a complex and complicated political and historical context, but we strongly believe that politics should not have any interference in sports and that sports should be a reflection of human respect, understanding and mutual cooperation and that sports, as one of the highest expressions of humanity, should have the power to overcome any other conflict or interest.”

The move comes despite Tunisia remaining in contention to stage the 2022 edition of the summer Youth Olympic Games. Tunisia’s proposal had been put on hold after Israeli athletes were excluded from competing at April’s Taekwondo World Junior Championship in the country.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it would delay any further evaluation of the bid until the Tunisian Olympic Committee could provide “sufficient guarantees” from government authorities to ensure all athletes across all competitions would be accepted.

However, the IOC announced on Friday that Tunisia remains in the running to host the Games as the process moves to the Candidature Phase. The IOC Evaluation Commission will further assess the bids from now until the end of August before the Executive Board meets to vote on a host at the IOC Session in October in Buenos Aires.