The international sportswriters’ association, which goes by the acronym AIPS, held its two-day executive committee meeting this week in Doha, Qatar. The meeting’s guest of honor was Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the secretary general of the Qatar Olympic Committee, who is keenly sophisticated and moves fluidly between Arab and western cultures.
The Qataris bid — unsuccessfully — for the Summer Games of 2016 and 2020, cut early on in each round by the International Olympic Committee. Of course, soccer’s World Cup is set for Qatar in 2022.
His Excellency told the ladies and gentlemen of the press that sport is fundamentally one of the pillars of Qatar’s development plan. This year, the Qataris will organize 40 major sports events. By 2020, he said, the goal is to stage a big event every week of the year.
And, of course, he said, to bid again for the Olympics. Maybe for 2024. Possibly 2028.
If you have been to Doha, actually been on the ground, you know that there is serious commitment there. The new president of the IOC, Thomas Bach, has long had extensive ties to the Middle East, so one would imagine the climate — so to speak — for a Gulf bid would be as good as it could ever get.
There’s only one thing that could stop a Doha bid dead in its tracks, and it’s not the heat. Nor is it the capacity, infrastructure or even the impact on television schedules.
The start of the women’s 100-meter individual medley at the Doha World Cup event // photo courtesy Universal Sports Network
This photo offers irrefutable evidence of everything the Olympic values — friendship, excellence, respect — are not.
This sort of intolerance, indeed discrimination, has to stop. Now. And forever more.
This screenshot shows the start of the women’s 100-meter individual medley at swimming’s World Cup stop in Doha — happening more or less about the same stretch of time His Excellency and some of the world’s leading writers were meeting to talk about all the exciting things happening in the Qatari capital.
In Lane 5 is Amit Ivry of Israel.
The Israeli flag that should be depicted in the graphic display in the host broadcast feed has instead been washed out.
This incident marked just one of several episodes directed against Israeli swimmers at the World Cup stops in both Dubai (Oct. 17-18) and Doha (Oct. 20-21).
On Day 1 in Dubai, Israeli swimmers were not properly identified, either by announcers on the scoreboard. That way, their name and national flag wouldn’t have to be shown, a veteran national-team swimmer, Gal Nevo, told a leading Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz.
Things in Dubai were apparently back to normal by Day 2. Nevo, for instance, announced as from the country “I-S-R” on Day 1, was announced as from “Israel” on Day 2.
He said, “Suddenly, you arrive in a country that has refused to recognize you until now, and know that the next time we’ll be here they won’t play those games with us. I don’t know how many television viewers we’re talking about but the people in the emirate saw the Israeli flag over and over again, and were exposed to the country’s sporting aspect.”
That this sort of thing happened in Dubai can not have come entirely as a huge shock.
After all, this was where in 2009 the Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer was refused a visa for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships; tour officials fined organizers $300,000 and said all qualified players had to be able to play or the tournament’s sanctioning would be at risk. Peer has since played in Dubai.
That said, recent years have seen a veritable catalogue of incidents in which politics and sport have mixed in all the wrong ways, consistently with the Israelis as the target.
At the 2004 Athens Olympics, for instance, Iran’s judo world champion, Arash Miresmaeli, refused to take to the mat for a first-round match against Israel’s Ehud Vaks in the under-66 kg class. Iranian officials later awarded Miresmaeli the same $120,000 given its gold-medal winners at those 2004 Games for what was called a “great act of self-sacrifice.”
At the 2008 Beijing Games, Iran’s Mohammed Alirezaei refused to compete alongside Israeli swimmer Tom Be’eri in the heats of the 100 backstroke.
At the 2010 Olympic Youth Games in Singapore, in the final of the boys under-48 kg class in taekwondo, Gili Haimovitz of Israel won when Mohammed Soleimani of Iran proved a no-show, officially claiming he had aggravated an old injury to his left leg. Soleimani skipped the medals ceremony as well — missing the Israeli flag and anthem.
In 2012, Algerian kayaker Nasreddine Baghdadi withdrew from a World Cup event in which Israeli Roei Yellin was entered, and the president of the Algerian Olympic Committee, Rachid Hanifi, said all its athletes might refuse to compete against Israelis at the London Games: “There is an obligation to ask our government if we have to meet Israel in sport.”
That prompted the then-IOC president, Jacques Rogge, to declare that only serious injury would be accepted as an excuse for not competing at the London Games, that suspicious withdrawals would be checked by an “independent medical board” and that bogus withdrawals would lead to unspecified sanctions.
Just two weeks ago, Tunisia’s tennis federation ordered its top player, Malek Jaziri, ranked 169th in the world, not to play Israel’s Amir Weintraub in the quarterfinals of a lower-tier ATP event in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
International Tennis Federation spokesman Nick Imison told Associated Press he believed the case was a first-of-its-kind in tennis.
The constitution of swimming’s international federation, which goes by the acronym FINA, is absolutely clear that discrimination on the grounds of “race, sex, religion or political affiliations” is out of bounds.
True, FINA officials absolutely had been put on notice by events in Dubai. But Doha? This was where a 20-year-old Shahar Peer in 2008 — the year before the episode in Dubai — had reached the round–of-16. Moreover, her first night in the city, the tourney director had even taken her and her entourage out to dinner at a Moroccan restaurant in the traditional Souk district marketplace.
And yet — Doha.
According to a report in the Times of Israel, it’s not just that the Israeli flag was not displayed in the computer graphics of the races. Some races in which Israelis swam were not broadcast. The Israeli flag was removed from outside the venue; a tweet was posted Sunday complaining about the flag’s presence before it was taken down from outside the swim complex, according to the Doha News.
How this all happened remains entirely unclear. Who precisely was responsible — also uncertain.
FINA on Wednesday issued a statement saying that it reacted to events in both Dubai and Doha as soon as it knew. In Doha, for instance, FINA officials say they were told the full scope of what had happened only 15 minutes before the end of Day 2.
The statement says FINA “guarantees” that “all steps will be taken in the future for such acts not to occur again.”
This is particularly key because the world short-course championships are due to be held in Doha Dec. 3-7, 2014. Dubai and Doha are also scheduled to host further World Cup events ahead of the worlds.
FINA’s executive director, Cornel Marculescu, told Associated Press the two organizing committees apologized for what he called these “stupid things.” He also said, “Next year we have the world championships and these things will not happen anymore.”
Marculescu is absolutely right to label the incidents so forthrightly and to say enough is enough.
Now: Doha has a huge incentive to bid for the Olympics.
There are all kinds of bold steps that could be taken. For instance, there are apologies of all sorts. Some are private. Some are meant to be much more public.
Or: there are ways of reaching out, gestures of goodwill — say, swim clinics in which regional stars teach local kids. Could it hurt to invite Amit Ivry, winner of the silver medal in the 100 medley at the Doha 2013 World Cup?
At the least — all the Israelis all ought to be taken out to dinner next December at the worlds, everyone ought to shake hands and pose for some tourist-like pictures in the Souk and then all hands can get on with the business of swimming.
The Israelis — just like they were anybody else. That’s what they, and everybody, deserve.
After all, that’s the fundamental promise inherent in Olympic sport — that everyone can get along and that everyone deserves a chance to do their best, however good-enough that best might be. If the Qataris want to invite the world in 2024 or 2028 and be taken dead seriously about it — an Olympics is way different than the World Cup — that is the deal. Anything less is a non-starter.
(Photo: Aish.com / YouTube)
Despite advances in modern medicine, China is setting up roadblocks to cope with an outbreak of an ancient plague that once wiped out one-third of the world’s population and may have been one of the plagues that God used to strike Egypt.
Chinese officials installed temperature scanners at airports and checkpoints on main roads in an attempt to stop the spread of Bubonic plague as a fourth case was discovered in less than three weeks. A program to exterminate rats and fleas, which carry the disease, was also launched in Inner Mongolia where the disease seems to be originating.
Demonstrators gather in solidarity with anti-regime protests in Iran outside the Iranian Embassy in Helsinki, Finland. Photo: Reuters / Lehtikuva / Heikki Saukkomaa.
Four human rights lawyers currently imprisoned by the Iranian regime have been awarded with the annual prize of Europe’s most prestigious lawyers’ association.
The Iranian lawyers received the 2019 Human Rights Award from The Council of Bars and Law Societies Of Europe (CCBE) — a body that represents the bars and law societies of 45 countries and through them more than 1 million European lawyers.
The University of Bristol campus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
The University of Bristol in England has adopted “in full” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, the school’s Epigram independent student newspaper reported on Monday.
The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and Bristol’s Jewish Society (J-Soc) welcomed the move, saying, “The University of Bristol has not been free of antisemitic incidents and the adoption of this definition is an important first step in helping the university tackle anti-Jewish racism. We now expect the university to use this definition in outstanding disciplinary cases.”
Pope Francis Meets Thailand’s Buddhist Patriarch in Golden Temple (screenshot)
Pope Francis topped off his three-day visit to Thailand last Saturday with a meeting with Thailand’s supreme Buddhist patriarch Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong at Bangkok’s Ratchabophit Temple. The meeting took place in front of a 150-year-old gold statue of Buddha. The Pope followed Buddhist custom by removing his shoes.
During the meeting, the Pope gave the Buddhist Patriarch the Declaration on Human Brotherhood. The Declaration s a joint statement signed by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, last February in Abu Dhabi. The Pope met with the Imam last month to reinforce the Declaration.
An Israeli company says it is using space travel technology to help solve one of the most pressing problems down on Earth — the reliance on diesel fuel, a major source of pollution.
Israeli startup GenCell has developed an electric generator based on a hydrogen-energy technology used to power some of the most-famous space missions in history.
Feb 02, 2020 0The remarks from the US official came in wake of the Palestinian decision to reject the administration’s peace plan. US PRESIDENT Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrive to...
On January 18, a Shia Muslim rebel group launched a terror attack that claimed the lives of 111 in Yemen.
Days earlier, a Pakistani general captured popular sentiment whenever Muslims kill fellow Muslims by saying “Those who targeted innocents [Muslims] in a mosque can never be true Muslim[s].”
Such is the nature of one of the greatest claims that Islamic terrorism is much more politically than religiously driven. Thus, after another terrorist attack claimed the lives of Muslims in Bangladesh in 2016, it prime minister,
Sheikh Hasina, declared that “Anyone who believes in religion cannot do such act. They do not have any religion, their only religion is terrorism.”
Having predicted last year that a recession would begin in the summer of 2019 and that it would likely start with a major repo crisis, I am now proven wrong by 2019’s fourth-quarter GDP. If the repo crisis that started in the final week of summer had actually been the start of a recession, we would have seen fourth-quarter GDP go negative. Instead, it came in at 2.1% growth.
I find that an interesting number because third-quarter GDP also came in at 2.1% growth, and second-quarter GDP came in at 2.0% growth. Now fourth-quarter GDP came in exactly at 2.1% growth. Coincidence or goal-seeking? Notice the numbers are “seasonally adjusted,” and think about how many assumptions are made in seasonal adjustments.
The effort to impeach and remove President Donald Trump from office has produced many losers and few winners. The drama of the trial in the U.S. Senate is must-see TV for political junkies, but it has also been dispiriting viewing for Americans of all political stripes.
Few issues have divided the country more starkly than the question of whether or not the president should be removed from office. The arguments from both sides of the spectrum and their lawyers, as well as from the talking heads on television, have not worked to change any minds from their original political positions.
Last week, President Donald Trump unveiled his long-awaited Middle East peace plan. Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his electoral opponent Blue and White leader Benny Gantz were at the White House for the announcement. So were a bunch of international diplomats, including three from Arab nations. The Palestinians refused to attend and rejected the plan sight-unseen.
Anyone surveying the history of Israeli-Palestinian relations already knows that the Palestinians’ goal is the eradication of Israel. The difference in the new U.S. plan, however, is that the initial major steps in its implementation can be taken unilaterally by Israel, even with no Palestinian participation
The U.S. “Peace to Prosperity” plan presented by President Donald Trump last week proposes unprecedented criteria for the formation of a Palestinian state. Among them is this one: “The Palestinians shall have ended all programs, including school curricula and textbooks, that serve to incite or promote hatred or antagonism towards its neighbors, or which compensate or incentivize criminal or violent activity.”
The context of this directive cannot be ignored; our 20 years of research show that the PLO has transformed Palestinian schools into a tool of war against Israel.