(February 24, 2020 / JNS) For the first time ever, Israel’s national cycling team is competing in the 2020 UAE Tour, which began on Sunday.
The race in the United Arab Emirates—the only one that takes place in the region as part of the World Tour—is the Middle East’s largest professional cycling event. The “Israel Start-Up Nation” cycling team is one of 19 professional teams competing this year.
While the UAE does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, ties between the nations have significantly warmed in recent years.
“For us being in an Arab country … with the word ‘Israel’ emblazoned on the front and back of the jersey in big letters … for us, this is a really important race on the calendar,” Sylvan Adams, a co-owner of the team, told The Jerusalem Post.
“We are creating normalization of Israel, and there is a diplomatic element to our participation,” he said. ”We are building these bridges on a people-to-people basis from the ground up.”
As a World Tour competitor, the Israeli team automatically qualified to participate in the 2020 UAE Tour, which begins in Abu Dhabi and consists of a 148-kilometer course across all seven United Arab Emirates.
The team has also been given increased security throughout their participation in the week-long tour.
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