Israel’s team have been denied visas to attend the International Judo Federation (IJF) Grand Slam event in Abu Dhabi, which is due to take place between October 30 and November 1.
The country had been due to send a 15-member team to the event in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital, with former women’s under 63 kilogram world champion Yarden Gerbi and reigning European men’s under 73kg champion Sagi Muki expected to have been their key medal hopes.
However, their participation in the event now appears unlikely and the team’s head coach Oren Smadga posted on Facebook to confirm the Visa applications had been denied.
“Abu Dhabi does not approve the visa to the Israeli judo team,” he said.
“Why organise a judo competition in a country then not participate all the athletes in the world?
“Sport must be out of politics.”
The Grand Slam event forms a crucial part of the qualification process for judokas for the Rio 2016 Olympic tournament, with gold medallists set to add 500 points to their totals as they seek to qualify for the Games.
Meanwhile, athletes who finish in the silver medal position are set to secure 300 points, while bronze medal winners earn 200.
More than 500 athletes for more than 80 countries are expected to compete in the Grand Slam event in Abu Dhabi, with reports claiming that most of the competing nations have already received their visas for the event.
Israel, which isn't recognised as a country by the UAE, also had difficulties when they were due to compete at the IJF World Masters event earlier this year in Rabat, however the matter was resolved with the support of the Morocco Judo Federation, with the team eventually able to compete.
insidethegames have requested a comment from the IJF regarding the issue.
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