(JNS.org) The Israel Judo Association has clarified that Turkish Airlines did not bar Israeli team members from boarding a flight en route to a major judo tournament, contrary to reports that were circulated on Israeli media and picked up by outlets such as JNS.org.
"Following rumors circulated yesterday in the media about Turkish Airlines and the judo team to Abu Dhabi, I would like to clarify that Turkish Airways has no connection about off loading the passengers," Moshe Parner, chariman of the Israel Judo Association, wrote in a letter to the airline. "The Turkish company was sensitive and considerate of the team and approved boarding despite the missing visa documents."
Parner continued, "[The] Israeli Judo Team has already boarded the flight towards Istanbul as a stopover to Abu Dhabi and received a message from the authorities in Abu Dhabi that we had no visa to enter through Turkey, but only through Jordan, so we got off the plane." He called the Turkish carrier "an excellent and preferred airline for the Judo Association in Israel and we will continue to use its excellent services to fly teams to the world competitions."
Initial reports in Israeli media claimed the airline itself had banned the Israeli team members from boarding, rather than identifying the visa issue. The 12 Israeli athletes were traveling through Istanbul to pick up visas for their visit to Abu Dhabi, which is hosting the Judo Grand Slam tournament from Oct. 26-28.
"Turkish Airlines views competitive sports as a bridge connecting different cultures, and we support athletes and sports organizations around the world," the airline stated. "The incident that took place involving the Israeli judo team on October 23rd regarding Flight TK 795 was beyond the purview of our company."
JNS.org apologizes for the error in its initial report.