Rabat – Though the United Arab Emirates did not permit the Israeli judoka Or Sasson to wear his national insignia last month, the athlete was allowed to wear Israel’s symbols at the Openweight World Championships in Marrakech on November 12.
Ahead of the tournament, Morocco had previously threatened not to grant visas to the Israeli team, but Judo Federation President Marius Vizer negotiated their arrival with Moroccan officials.
Sasson had to wait until Wednesday to receive an official letter confirming his participation in the championship.
After experiencing several delays, the Israeli team arrived to Morocco on Thursday and was allowed to compete there under the Israeli flag.
Their arrival to Morocco was severely criticized by Moroccan political groups, including the Justice and Development Party, who described the Israeli athlete as a “rapacious entity” and urged the other governmental stakeholders to treat the “increasing manifestations of normalization with the Israeli entity and to take the needed measures to stop it.”
“This contradicts the official policy of the state,” noted a joint statement by opponents to Sasson’s visit. “The legal national reference and the international obligations of Morocco in the framework of the Arab League which does not allow normalization with the Zionist entity.”
The statement called on all Moroccans to “counter the attempts to normalise relations with [Israel].”
Amid the controversy, Sasson and his coach Oren Smadj took a pause from pre-game training and visited the only active synagogue in Marrakech.