WJC awards International Judo Federation head Marius Vizer for fighting discrimination against Israeli athletes
Thu, 24 Jan 2019
TEL AVIV - The World Jewish Congress marked its annual #WeRemember campaign on Thursday with major events around the world, including two top-level sports gatherings in Israel, the International Judo Grand Prix and Maccabi Tel Aviv versus Panathinaikos in the EuropLeague.
On the sidelines of the Judo Grand Prix, WJC Chief Program Officer Sonia Gomes de Mesquita awarded a certificate of appreciation to the President of the International Judo Federation Marius Vizer, as a gesture of gratitude for his commitment to combating the discrimination of Israeli athletes and working to ensure that judo remain a positive and tolerable sport.
Gomes de Mesquita was accompanied in the presentation by Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev and President of the Israel Judo Association Moshe Ponte.
“IJF President Vizer and IJA President Mr. Ponte are at the forefront of the struggle to ensure that hate and intolerance are forever removed from sport,” said Gomes de Mesquita. “They have made an immense contribution in this regard which will have a long-lasting effect for athletes from Israel and from all around the world. Israel’s anthem was played in Abu Dhabi and the Israel flag was raised and for this we are grateful.”
After receiving the award from the World Jewish Congress, VIZER, said: “Thank you very much, it’s a great honor for the IJF and great recognition for judo, the Israeli judo team and Israeli's Ministry of Culture and Sport which made huge work in this way as well as officials from United Arab Emirates which opened a very important door for the future.”
Earlier this year, Vizer decided to suspend upcoming planned judo tournaments in Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates following the host countries’ refusal to guarantee equal rights and treatment to Israeli athletes.
In a letter to the IJF chairman last July, WJC CEO Robert Singer recalled Vizer’s swift intervention at the WJC’s request in October 2017 over a similar incident involving the UAE and noted: “Demands for compliance often fall on deaf ears… it is my sincere hope that your strong position this week barring such discrimination will yield positive change going forward and serve as an effective lesson to sporting federations worldwide that such behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
Also Thursday, Maccabi Tel Aviv joined the World Jewish Congress in a moving tribute for the #WeRemember campaign at its EuroLeague game versus Panathinaikos, with 11,000 fans in the stadium standing in unison holding #WeRemember signs. Last year, 11,000 Maccabi Tel Aviv fans joined the WJC for a similar tribute.
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