For the first time in an Arab territory, the Israeli national anthem “Hatikvah” will be played at the opening of the 48th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Qatar, which will be held from October,25 till November,3.
The news of the arrival of the Israeli sports delegation to Doha sparked a storm of Arab criticism on social media as a “declared normalization” whereas the Israeli delegation expressed its happiness with the hospitality extended to it by the organizers upon arriving in Doha.
Israeli athletes have already competed in competitions in Qatar and other Arab countries in the past, but the difference this time is that the athletes will appear with Israeli badges on their clothes and the Israeli national anthem will be played under a promise and a message, described by Israeli newspapers as a “soft” one sent by the Qatar Gymnastics Federation to its counterpart in Tel Aviv about a month ago.
The manager of the Israeli delegation, according to a report on the Israeli specialized website “Gymnovosti”, stated : “The treatment received by the team has been very good so far.”
The report revealed the participation of a gymnast who is a recruit in the Israeli army who obtained permission to be part of the delegation.
The delegation includes six male and two female gymnasts, while the website reported that the soldier Artem Dolgopya who was allowed to travel to Qatar by the Israeli military, booked his ticket at the last minute.
Twitter users, including well-known local media anchors, reacted angrily against Qatar’s acceptance of hosting Israeli gymnasts.