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Kazakh jiu jitsu competitor squats during ‘Hatikvah’ after losing to Israeli

Head of Israeli sports organization says incident at Abu Dhabi youth tournament being examined, hopes ‘this was not an act of protest against the national anthem’

A Kazakh jiu jitsu competitor kneels while the Israeli national anthem, 'Hatikvah ' plays during a medal ceremony at the World Championships in Abu Dhabi on November 9, 2021. (Screenshot)
A Kazakh jiu jitsu competitor kneels while the Israeli national anthem, 'Hatikvah ' plays during a medal ceremony at the World Championships in Abu Dhabi on November 9, 2021. (Screenshot)

Israeli jiu jitsu competitor Amit Burshtein, 17, picked up a gold medal Tuesday at the youth world championships in Abu Dhabi.

But when the Israeli national anthem “Hatikvah” began to play during the medal ceremony, Burshtein’s Kazakh opponent — who took home the bronze in the round — squatted down on the podium.

It was not immediately clear why he struck the pose and another Kazakh competitor, who took home silver, remained standing, in video of the incident posted on social media.

“We are proud of our athletes who represent Israel in the best way possible and bring us great honor. We were surprised to see the video,” Arik Kaplan, the head of Ayelet — the Federation of the Non-Olympic Sport In Israel, told Channel 12 news.

“We immediately asked our representatives in Abu Dhabi to examine the matter, out of hope that this was not an act of protest against the national anthem,” Kaplan added.

Israeli athletes frequently face opponents in international sporting competitions who refuse to compete against them, shake hands or directly address them. Many athletes from Muslim nations have been punished for unsportsmanlike conduct for such incidents, including at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year.

Burshtein’s younger brother, 14-year-old Guy Burshtein, won a bronze medal at the tournament in Abu Dhabi.

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