Israeli judoka Tal Flicker, who won a gold medal on Thursday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam judo tournament, said he defied the host Arab state’s boycott on displaying Israeli symbols and playing Israel’s national anthem at the victory ceremony by shutting out the “background noise” and singing “Hatikvah” himself.
As tournament organizers played the anthem of the International Judo Federation’s (IJF) when Flicker stood on the podium with his medal, he sang the Israeli national anthem.
“The world federation anthem that they played was just background noise,” he told Channel 2 news. “I was singing ‘Hatikvah’ from the heart.”
“I’m proud of my country,” he said. “The whole world knows that we’re from Israel, knows who we represent.”
ISRAELI Tal Flicker presented with his gold medal at #JudoAbuDhabi2017 without Israeli anthem or flag. Nice to see Tal singing something and I'm guessing it's the #Hatikvah@Ostrov_A pic.twitter.com/RzwGdn0Bh8
— SussexFriendsIsrael (@SussexFriends) October 26, 2017
Flicker’s win in Abu Dhabi added to two previous championship victories he has already achieved this year.
He was born in 1992 in the central city of Herzliya, where he was also raised.
He competes in the under-66 kilogram class, considered a lightweight category.
Flicker won his first international senior-level contest in 2013 at the European Open in Bucharest, Romania. He followed that up with a bronze in 2014 at the Grand Prix in Zagreb, Croatia.
In August 2017 he won a bronze at the World Judo Championships in Budapest.
Other successes this year saw him win the Grand Slam Baku and the Grand Prix in Cancun.
Flicker’s victory in Abu Dhabi was mired in controversy, as he was forced to celebrate his victory under the International Judo Federation’s flag due to a ban in the emirate on displaying Israeli symbols.