Boycotts of Israel in sports
Boycotts of Israel in sports refer to various disqualifications and denial of Israeli athletes. As part of a more or less systematic boycott of Israel, Israeli athletes and teams have been barred from some competitions. In many international competitions, where Israel does take part, such as the Olympic Games, some Arab and Muslim competitors avoid competing against Israelis. Some countries, most notably Iran, even compel their athletes not to compete against Israelis or in Israel.
The Israel Football Association was a member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) group of FIFA between 1954 and 1974. Because of the Arab League boycott of Israel, several Arab and Muslim states refused to compete against Israel. The political situation culminated in Israel winning the 1958 World Cup qualifying stage for Asia and Africa without playing a single game, forcing FIFA to schedule a playoff between Israel and Wales to ensure the Israeli team did not qualify without playing at least one game (which Wales won). In 1974, Israel was expelled from the AFC group by a resolution initiated by Kuwait, which was adopted by AFC by a vote of 17 to 13 with 6 abstentions. To get around the ban, Israel was admitted as an associated member of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) in 1992, and was admitted as a full member of the UEFA group in 1994. Supporters of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement have advocated for Israel to be expelled or suspended from FIFA, without success. On 24 August 2018 the President of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) Jibril Rajoub was fined CHF 20,000 (US$20,333) and banned from FIFA matches for a year for inciting hatred and violence against an Argentinian team proposing to play a friendly match in Israel.
In 2007, Mushir Salem Jawher, a Kenyan-born marathoner, lost his Bahraini citizenship after competing in the Tiberias Marathon in Israel, but later that year reacquired Bahraini citizenship and competed again in the Tiberias Marathon in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
In 2009, there was an increased number of boycotts and boycott campaigns against Israeli athletes, probably related to Arab/Leftist fury over Operation Cast Lead. Israeli tennis star Shahar Peer was denied a visa to participate in a tournament in Dubai, leading to comments from stars like Serena Williams and Andy Roddick that were critical of the Dubai authorities' decision, with Roddick later pulling out of a tournament in Dubai. After a response that included a cable network cancelling its coverage of the event and a large fine for the Dubai Tennis Authorities, the United Arab Emirates did issue a visa for Israeli tennis player Andy Ram to compete that year. Campaigners in New Zealand asked Peer to heed the BDS call and not participate in local NZ tournaments, but Peer publicly dismissed them and the officials welcomed Peer's participation.
Tennis authorities in Malmö, Sweden wanted to cancel a Davis Cup match between Israel and Sweden because of anti-Israel riots and because the city council did not want the Israeli team competing in the city. The tennis authorities were unwilling to accept a Swedish forfeit, which would have eliminated Sweden from the competition, and decided to bar spectators from the match instead (Israel ended up knocking Sweden out of the 2009 tournament with a 3–2 series victory). As a punishment, the city was banned from hosting Davis Cup matches for five years and fined thousands of dollars.
Supporters of the BDS movement also tried and failed to have Israeli teams barred from the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio Olympics. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Egypt's Islam El Shehaby provoked outrage after refusing to shake hands with Israeli judoka, Or Sasson.
Despite the country's international political issues, a growing[vague] number of Arab athletes are joining domestic Israeli sports teams and the international teams, including the Israel national football team. These include Rifaat Turk, Najwan Ghrayib, Walid Badir, Salim Toama, Abbas Suan, amongst others. Another Arab-Israeli, Johar Abu Lashin, born in Nazareth, was an IBO Welterweight champion.
In October 2017, when an Israeli Tal Flicker won gold in an international judo championship in the United Arab Emirates, officials refused to fly the Israeli flag and play the Israeli national anthem, instead playing the official music of the International Judo Federation (IJF) and flying the IJF's logo. The UAE also banned Israeli athletes from wearing their country's symbols on uniforms, having to wear IJF uniforms. Other contestants such as Gili Cohen received similar treatment. In December 2017, seven Israelis were denied visas by Saudi Arabia to compete in an international chess tournament. In October 2018, the UAE reversed its position allowing the Israeli flag be displayed and anthem played when an Israeli judoka Sagi Muki won a gold medal.
On 24 May 2018, a team of international jurists, including Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz, announced a plan to petition the international Court of Arbitration for Sport against the exclusion of Israel's flag and anthem at sporting events in Arab countries. In July 2018, the International Judo Federation cancelled two grand slam judo events, in Tunis and Abu Dhabi, because Israeli flags were not allowed to be raised. Also in July 2018, the World Chess Federation said it will ban Tunisia from hosting the international chess competition in 2019 if it does not grant a visa to Israeli contestants, including a seven-year-old Israeli girl champion.
On 18 January 2019, Israel called upon the International Paralympic Committee to move the World Para Swimming Championships scheduled for Malaysia in July 2019 because it has refused to let Israelis participate. 10 days later, the IPC confirmed that due to Malaysia's actions regarding Israeli visas, the championships would be stripped from Malaysia and moved to another location. The IPC board said Malaysia “failed to provide the necessary guarantees that Israeli Para swimmers could participate, free from discrimination, and safely in the Championships”, including full compliance with the IPC protocols related to anthems and flags.
In March 2019, the Israeli national anthem was played in Qatar after Israeli gymnast Alexander Shatilov won the gold medal for the floor exercise during the 2019 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup series. The anthem had previously been played in Abu Dhabi in October 2018, after Israeli judoka Sagi Muki won the gold medal in the Judo Grand Competition.
In August 2019, Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei refused to withdraw from a match at the 2019 World Judo Championships in Tokyo which would have required, had he won, to compete against an Israeli judoka Sagi Muki in the final. Though he lost, and so did not need to compete against the Israeli, Mollaei feared returning to his country and sought political asylum in Germany. Following the episode, the International Judo Federation (IJF) suspended Iran from competing in any future judo competition. Later on, Egyptian judoka Mohamed Abdelaal refused to shake hands with Israeli Sagi Moki in the same championship. In October 2019, two Iranian teenagers also refused to play Israelis in a chess tournament. On 17 November 2019, the Israeli national anthem was played and Israeli flag flown in Abu Dhabi when 17-year-old Alon Leviev took gold in the junior category at the Ju-jitsu World Championship. In December 2019, Alireza Firouzja, the world's second-highest rated junior chess player, applied to renounce his Iranian citizenship over pressures on Iranian athletes to forego matches with Israeli competitor, the second Iranian sports figure in recent months to do so.
In early November 2019, the BDS movement sought the cancellation of a soccer match between the national teams of Argentina and Uruguay scheduled to be held in Tel Aviv, Israel. The match took place on 19 November.
Individual sporting boycott
Since the 21st century, Israeli athletes competing in tournaments have faced boycotts by athletes from Muslim countries (primarily Iran), speculated to be the result of political interferences.
|Date||Retired athlete's name||Israeli athlete's name||Sport type||Event||Official reason for retiring|
|17 February 2001||Hamed Malekmohammadi||Yoel Razvozov||judo||2001 World Judo Championships|
|15 August 2004 ||Arash Miresmaeili||Ehud Vaks||judo||2004 Summer Olympics|
|22 June 2003||Iran national five-a-side soccer team||Israel national five-a-side soccer team||soccer||2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games|
|4 August 2005||Iran U-21 men national basketball team||Israel U-21 men national basketball team||basketball||FIBA Under-21 World Championship||Visa issues|
|28 January 2007||Ahmad Ksanfandi (referee)||Gal Yekutiel||judo||2007 Tbilisi judo Open|
|18 September 2007 ||Mehdi Mohammadi||Ilia Shafran||amateur wrestling||2007 World Wrestling Championships|
|10 August 2008 ||Mohammad Alirezaei||Tom Be'eri||swimming||2008 Summer Olympics||Indigestion|
|28 July 2009||Mohammad Alirezaei||Michael Malul||swimming||2009 World Aquatics Championships|
|30 September 2009||Mohammad Hossein Ebrahimi||Tomer Or||fencing||2009 World Fencing Championships|
|1 October 2009||Ali Fadja||Slava Zingerman||fencing||2009 World Fencing Championships||Retired from entire competition|
|1 October 2009 ||Mohammad Mohazzabnia||Tomer Hodorov||tennis||2009 Kenya Futures F1|
|4 April 2010||Iran youth national volleyball team||Israel youth national volleyball team||volleyball||2010 International Volleyball Tournament Pordenone|
|10 April 2010[failed verification]||Meisam Bagheri||Moty Lugassi||taekwondo||A-Class Belgian Open 2010|
|28 April 2010||Iran men's national table tennis team||Israel men's national table tennis team||table tennis||2011 Luxembourg Table Tennis championship|
|21 May 2010||Ali Shahhosseini||Misha Zilberman||badminton||2010 Spanish Open|
|15 August 2010||Mohammad Soleimani||Gili Haimovitz||taekwondo||2010 Summer Youth Olympics|
|4 November 2010||Hamed Sayyad Ghanbari||Maor Hatoel||fencing||2010 World Fencing Championships|
|4 November 2010||Mohammad Hossein Ebrahimi||Kobi Hatoel||fencing||2010 World Fencing Championships|
|5 November 2010||Hamed Sedaghati||Ido Herpe||fencing||2010 World Fencing Championships|
|5 November 2010||Sadegh Abedi||Grigori Beskin||fencing||2010 World Fencing Championships|
|24 July 2011||Mohammad Alirezaei||Gal Nevo||swimming||2011 World Aquatics Championships||Tiredness|
|20 August 2011||Iran men's national volleyball team||Israel men's national volleyball team||volleyball||2011 Summer Universiade|
|11 September 2011 ||Ghasem Rezaei||Robert Avanesyan||amateur wrestling||2011 World Wrestling Championships|
|18 September 2011 ||Javad Mahjoub||Or Sasson||judo||World Cup Tashkent 2011|
|10 October 2011 ||Shervin Tolouei||Oren Bassal||fencing||2011 World Fencing Championships|
|5 November 2011 ||Kaveh Mehrabi||Misha Zilberman||badminton||2011 Puerto Rico International Challenge|
|21 July 2015 ||Saber Hoshmand/Abbas Pourasgari||Sean Faiga/Ariel Hilman||beach volleyball||2015 FIVB Grand Slam Yokohama||injury|
|27 January 2017 ||Majid Hassaninia||Jonathan Giller||karate||21st Open de Paris - Karate Premier League||"what is of paramount importance to every Iranian athlete is his/her beliefs plus support for the defenseless Palestinian nation"|
|25 November 2017 ||Alireza Karimi||Uri Kalashnikov||wrestling||2017 World U23 Wrestling Championship||Lost prior match at instruction of coach.|
|2 October 2018 ||Hossein Vafaei||Eden Sharav||snooker||2018 European Masters|
|10 December 2018 ||Hossein Vafaei||Eden Sharav||snooker||2018 Scottish Open|
|19 April 2019 ||Alireza Firouzja||Or Bronstein||chess||GRENKE Chess Open|
|Date||Country origin||Retired athlete's name||Israeli athlete's name||Sport type||Event||Official reason for retiring|
|26 July 2001||Tunisia||Sadok Khalki||Arik Zeevi||judo||2001 World Judo Championships|
|6 July 2006||Indonesia||Indonesia Fed Cup team||Israel Fed Cup team||tennis||2006 Fed Cup|
|19 July 2007 ||Kuwait||Mohammed al Ghareeb||Amir Weintraub||tennis||2007 Togliatti challenger||Stomach problems|
|15 August 2008 ||Syria||Bayan Jumah||Anya Gostomelsky||swimming||2008 Summer Olympics|
|7 February 2010 ||Kuwait||Kuwait men's national pool team||Israel men's national pool team||pool||2010 Hanover world team A championship||Food poisoning of 4 players|
|5 May 2011 ||Algeria||Zakaria Chenouf||Adam Sagir||taekwondo||2011 World Taekwondo Championships|
|1 October 2011 ||Algeria||Meriem Moussa||Shahar Levi||judo||World Cup Women Rome 2011|
|1 October 2011 ||Algeria||Rahou Abdelmalek||Artem Masliy||boxing||2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships|
|18 October 2013 ||Tunisia||Malek Jaziri||Amir Weintraub||tennis||2013 Tashkent Challenger|
|7 August 2016 ||Saudi Arabia||Joud Fahmy||Christianne Legentil/Gili Cohen||judo||2016 Summer Olympics||Sustained injuries to her arm and leg during training; ostensibly dropped out of match with Christianne Legentil of Mauritius to avoid match with Gili Cohen in next round|
|28 January 2019 ||Kuwait||Abdullah al-Anjari||Eitan Seri-Levi||jiu-jitsu||2019 Los Angeles International Jiu-jitsu Open|
|February 2019 ||Lebanon||Nacif Elias||Li Kochman||judo||Paris Grand Slam 2019|
|February 2019 ||Lebanon||Ezzeddine Faraj||taekwondo||2019 European Junior Championships|
|March 2019 ||Lebanon||Bassam Safadieh||table tennis||2019 Table Tennis Mediterranean Championships U-15|
|25 September 2019 ||Lebanon||Domenic Abounader||Uri Kalashnikov||amateur wrestling||2019 World Wrestling Championships|
- Academic boycott of Israel
- Antisemitism in the Olympic Games
- Jewish Olympics
- Muscular Judaism
- Sport policies of the Arab League
- "Druze-Israeli advances as Iraqi foe refuses to fight".
- IRANIAN JUDOKA SEEKS ASYLUM AFTER PRESSURE TO AVOID FACING ISRAELI
- Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei fears for safety after refusing to quit World Championships
- "Aust-Asian bid fails". The Sydney Morning Herald. 1974-09-16. p. 11. Retrieved 2014-07-10.
- "Palestinians disappointed but determined after FIFA betrayal". 2015-05-29.
- "FOOTBALL CHIEF BANNED BY FIFA FOR INCITING HATRED".[permanent dead link]
- agencies, Telegraph staff and (2 April 2009). "Sweden punished for Israel Davis Cup lockout" – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
- Young, Henry. "Israeli wins gold in UAE; officials refuse to play anthem". CNN.
- "Storm brews over Saudi chess tournament". BBC News. 26 December 2017 – via www.bbc.com.
- HATIKVAH PLAYS FOR FIRST TIME IN UAE AS ISRAELI JUDOKA WINS GOLD
- "Dershowitz to sue against Israeli flag ban at sports events in Arab state".
- "Regev gets Israeli flag-less Tunis, Abu Dhabi judo events cancelled".
- "Tunisia could lose chance to host World Chess meet after banning Israelis".
- Israel slams Malaysian decision to bar Paralympic athletes
- MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER WILL NOT ALLOW ISRAELIS TO ENTER THE COUNTRY
- "Shatilov: I had a double celebration". Gymnovosti. 26 March 2019.
- Israeli national anthem plays in Qatar- watch
- TWO IRANIAN TEEN PLAYERS REFUSE TO FACE ISRAELIS AT WORLD CHESS CHAMPIONSHIPS
- "Egyptian judoka refuses to shake hands with Israeli judoka: Israeli Foreign Ministry". Egypt Independent. 29 August 2019.
- "'Hatikvah' played in Abu Dhabi as Israeli takes gold in ju-jitsu tournament". The Times of Israel. 17 November 2019.
- Chess player 'won't play for Iran' due to ban on Israeli players
- "Argentina vs. Uruguay soccer match scheduled for Tel Aviv under BDS attack". The Jerusalem Post. 11 November 2019.
- אורי טלשיר 26.07.2011 13:00 עודכן ב: 14:42 הוסף תגובה (26 July 2011). "חוקי החרם: מסורת של החרמות ישראלים בתחרויות בינלאומית – ספורט – הארץ". הארץ (in Hebrew). Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- הג'ודוקא האיראני: 'פרשתי כהזדהות עם הסבל הפלסטיני' [Iranian judoka: 'I retired in solidarity with suffering Palestinians']. Ynet (in Hebrew). Tel Aviv. 14 August 2004. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- "Sport / Special Olympics". Irishtimes.com. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- Livnat, Arie (2005-08-04). "Basketball / Iran pulls out of U21 tourney to avoid match-up against Israel". Haaretz. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- Maddy, Bruce (29 January 2007). "Iranian official refuses to referee Yekutiel's ..." Jpost.com. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- Haas, Sa'ar (18 September 2007). היאבקות: האיראני לא עלה לקרב, לשפרן זה לא עזר [Wrestling: Iran did not fight, ...]. Ynet (in Hebrew). Tel Aviv. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- "Mohammad Alirezaei | InTheMoment". Momentmagazine. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- Haas, Sa'ar (28 July 2009). "Iranian swimmer refuses to race Israeli contender at worlds". Ynetnews. Tel Aviv. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- Hipsh, Rami (2009-10-02). "Fencing / Iran keeps up Israel boycott, forfeits again". Haaretz. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- "ספורט – ענפים נוספים nrg – ...סייף: עוד איראני בחר לא". Nrg.co.il. 3 October 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- "ספורט – טניס nrg – ...פוליטיקה גם בטניס: האיראני לא הופיע". Nrg.co.il. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- כדורעף: איראן סירבה לשחק נגד נבחרת הנוער [Volleyball: Iran refused to play against the national youth]. Ynet (in Hebrew). Tel Aviv. 4 April 2010. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- "בת-אל גטרר ומוטי לוגסי זכו בארד באליפות גרמניה". One.co.il. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- "ספורט – ענפים נוספים nrg – ...טנ"ש: שוב איראן פרשה, ישראל". Nrg.co.il. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- Aharoni, Oren (20 May 2010). בדמינטון: האיראני החרים את הקרב מול הישראלי [Badminton: Iran boycotted the Israeli competition]. Ynet (in Hebrew). Tel Aviv. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- "Political victims at Youth Olympics; more Olympic notes – Brian Cazeneuve". Sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- Aharoni, Oren (11 April 2010). חרם איראני כפול באליפות העולם בסיף [Iranian boycott fencing world championship double]. Ynet (in Hebrew). Tel Aviv. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- Aharoni, Oren (11 May 2010). סייף: האיראנים בשלהם, חטואל וזמלין בשלב הבא. Ynet (in Hebrew). Tel Aviv. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- Associated, The (2011-07-26). "Swimming World Championships / Iran's team dives into Israel boycott". Haaretz. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- "איראן לא הופיעה למשחק מול ישראל והושעתה". One.co.il. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- "Iranians disqualified for refusing to wrestle Israelis". Iranian.com. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- "כסף לפלצ'וק באל' אירופה, חרם איראני בטשקנט". One.co.il. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- Aharoni, Oren (10 October 2011). "סיף: איראנים לא הופיעו לקרבות מול ישראלים" [Sabre: Iranians did not appear to compete with Israelis]. Ynet. Tel Aviv. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- Aharoni, Oren (11 May 2011). פרק נוסף בחרם האיראני: הפעם - בדמינטון [Another chapter in Iranian boycott this time – Badminton]. Ynet (in Hebrew). Tel Aviv. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- "Results/Schedule". FIVB. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- "My beliefs precede quest for medal: Iranian karateka". 28 January 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
- "My beliefs precede quest for medal: Iranian karateka". 28 January 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
- "Hossein Vafaei vs Eden Sharav". snooker.org. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
- "Keymer vs. Carlsen in GRENKE Classic Round 1". 20 April 2019. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
- ג'ודו: זאבי ניצח באיפון יריב טוניסאי בסיבוב הראשון באליפות העולם. Ynet (in Hebrew). Tel Aviv. 26 July 2001. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- "ITF fines Indonesia $31, 600 for canceling match vs. Israel – Tennis". CBSSports.com. 15 November 2006. Archived from the original on 12 August 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- "טניסאי כוויתי סירב לשחק מול אמיר חדד". One.co.il. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- Schuman, Benjamin (15 August 2008). "More Politics in the Olympic Pool | InTheMoment". Momentmagazine. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- Aharoni, Oren (2 July 2010). פוליטיקה בפול: נבחרת כווית פרשה מאל' העולם. Ynet (in Hebrew). Tel Aviv. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- "Algerian judoka boycotts Israeli in World Championship". Echorouk Online. Retrieved 10 November 2011.[permanent dead link]
- Aharoni, Oren (10 January 2011). אחרי איראן, ספורטאים אלג'יראים החרימו ישראלים [After Iran, Israel boycotted by Algerian athletes]. Ynet (in Hebrew). Tel Aviv. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- "ATP investigating Tunisian player's withdrawal". 2015-02-04. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
- "Saudi judoka forfeits Rio match, apparently to avoid Israeli". 7 August 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
- "Kuwaiti grappler taps out of tournament rather than face Israeli competitor". alaraby.co.uk. 28 January 2019.
- "Kuwaiti athlete withdraws from competition to avoid playing against Israeli athlete: "I will never carry out normalization with the [Zionist] entity"". Palestinian Media Watch. 30 January 2019.
- "Ces sportifs libanais qui ont refusé d'affronter des Israéliens depuis le début de l'année 2019". lorientlejour.com. 23 September 2019.
- "Un lutteur libanais qui devait affronter un Israélien se retire des championnats du monde". lorientlejour.com. 21 September 2019.