Unlike last year, organizers of the World Swimming Championships in Doha, Qatar, did not erase the Star of David from the Israeli flag from computer graphics accompanying the official state broadcast of the races.
An earlier report based on a Facebook post — since erased — by Israeli swimmer Guy Barnea, said the broadcast showing Barnea’s first-place finish in the men’s 200-meter butterfly stroke qualifiers, on Sunday, featured the Israeli flag as just a plain white banner with two blue stripes running along its sides.
Barnea uploaded to Facebook a screenshot of the electronic screen at the competition which appeared to show the omitted Star of David, rhetorically inquiring in the image’s caption about the missing star. He later deleted the post, but it was picked up and circulated on social media sites.
A reporter for Israel’s Channel 1 uploaded his own image of the broadcast moment which shows the (faint) Star of David, alongside another image of the televised competition showing a clearer Israeli flag next to Barnea’s name.
המגן דוד לא ״נעלם". מי שצילם את התמונה לא עשה ״ white balance"
A smiling Barnea was featured on Qatari state TV following his victory, and although there was some confusion about the graphics accompanying the Israeli athlete at the bottom of the screen, the abbreviation “ISR” to denote the swimmer’s nationality could be seen clearly as could the Israeli flag on his swimmer’s cap.
Although he took down the image purporting to show the incomplete Israeli flag, Barnea posted several pictures from his time in Qatar.
גאה לייצג את המדינה פה בקטאר. מחר מתחילים! #אליפותהעולם #goisrael
The inclusion of the Israeli flag this year was a marked departure from last year’s meet, when Qatar authorities substituted a totally white flag in place of the Israeli flag during the official broadcasts of the swimming championship, and displayed a mistaken abbreviation of the country in several of the cup’s races.
Despite his achievement, Barnea ranked 31st in the tournament and did not qualify for the championship finals, which are set to take place later Sunday.
However, four other Israeli swimmers will compete in the finals, among them David Gomberg, who broke an Israeli national record in the men’s 200-meter backstroke qualifiers, completing the race within a staggering 1:50:83 minutes.
Some races in which Israelis featured were not broadcast by the Qatar authorities, according to some reports. The Israeli flag was removed from several spots outside the venue.
JTA contributed to this report.
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