The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) condemns the shameful treatment and threats that Moroccan authorities and spectators meted out this past weekend to the Israeli judo team at the World Masters Judo Tournament in Rabat, Morocco, a qualifying event for the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro.
When the seven-member Israeli judo team reached the airport in Morocco, Moroccan authorities confiscated the team’s passports, kept the team in a room with no chairs, food or water for almost nine hours, and falsely blamed the delay on lack of visas and then changed the story to falsely claiming that a gun was found in the luggage of one of the Israeli athletes. Moroccan authorities only finally released the Israeli team from captivity after the president of the International Judo Federation’s executive committee threatened to cancel the competition if the Israeli team was not released.
At the judo event, the Israeli flag was missing and the Israeli athletes were not listed on the tournament website. Worse still, spectators waved Palestinian flags and threatened the Israeli athletes whenever they appeared, screaming at the Israeli judokas: “We’re going to kill you.”
ZOA President Morton Klein stated: “In light of Morocco’s shameful treatment of Israel’s athletes, the International Judo Federation and International Olympic Committee should consider barring Morocco from hosting future international sports events.”
The Moroccan treatment of Israel’s judo team violates the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s most basic non-discrimination principles and the spirit of friendship that should permeate sporting events. The IOC’s Fundamental Principles of Olympism in the Olympic Charter declares:
“4. The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. . . . .”
“6. The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
The sports arena must be a place where Jewish and Israeli athletes are not subjected to threats, ill-treatment and discrimination.