For millions of people across the world, the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games was a spectacular and moving symbol of unity. But there are some in the Arab media who insist upon viewing the multinational event as just another opportunity to showcase Israel as a “leprous entity.”
During the opening ceremony, the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network provided its many viewers with elaborate commentary as each country’s Olympic delegation marched down the Londonstadium.
However, as soon as the Israeli delegation entered the stadium led by windsurfer Shahar Zubariwho was wielding the Israeli flag with pride, the Arab broadcasters suddenly fell silent.
The festive ceremony was covered by the two renowned Arab sport commentators, Yousef Saif and Isam Shawali. As the Israeli team entered the stadium, Shawali said “They don’t deserve it.”
The Arab disdain for the Israeli Olympic team was quite apparent on the opening night of Olympic games when Lebanese judo fighters refused to train on the same mat as the Israeli Olympic team, forcing Olympic officials to erect a screen between the two teams.
As the games began, several Arab nations held heated debates about a possible face-off between an Arab country and the Israeli team
Reports claiming that Algeria is also debating the issue, have been circling the media, however, Rashid Hanifi, head of the nation’s Olympic Committee, denied in a press conference that the Algerian government had instructed its athletes to boycott matches with Israeli athletes.
Boycotts of Israeli athletes in international competitions are not without precedent. In 2004, Israeli judoka Udi Wax was slotted to compete against then-world champion, Iran’s Arash Mirasmaeili, but the latter initially refused to play as a demonstration of “solidarity with Palestinian suffering.”
In Iran, citizens did not even have the option of watching the Israeli delegation march down the Olympic stadium on live television, as it is likely that the Islamic Republic chose to edit the live broadcast and air it at a later time, due to the “immodest appearance” of female athletes and the Israeli team’s appearance on TV.
However, an Iranian opposition website reported that many Iranian citizens watched the Olympic ceremony using a direct broadcast satellite system. According to the report, the Iranians were not pleased about the short “camera time” the Iranian delegation received on TV, and accused the British director of quickly moving to flim the next delegation.
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Source: Ynet News