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Israelis banned from Asian Games in Indonesia, yet Israel’s Moovit to be used as official transit app for visitors

An Israeli startup’s mobile guide will help millions of fans get to sports competitions at an event from which Israel has been banned since 1981, highlighting the ambiguity at the heart of the boycott movement against the Jewish state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Yahya Cholil Staquf, secretary general of the 60-million member Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, at his office in Jerusalem. Photo by Haim Zach/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Yahya Cholil Staquf, secretary general of the 60-million member Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, at his office in Jerusalem. Photo by Haim Zach/GPO.

An Israeli startup’s mobile guide has been chosen as the official mobility app for the Asian Games in Indonesia to help millions of fans get to sports competitions at the event from which Israel has been banned since 1981, highlighting the ambiguity at the heart of the boycott movement against the Jewish state.

Israel competed at the Asian Games five times—from 1954 to 1974. In 1981, the Asian Games Federation was organized as the Olympic Council of Asia, and for political reasons Israel was excluded, and a year later banned permanently. Palestinian athletes, however, remain on the roster, The Times of Israel reported on Monday.

The Asian Games, held every four years, are hailed as the second-largest multisport event after the Olympics. Teams for 44 countries compete in the tournament, which attracts some 3 million visitors from all over the world.

During the Asian Games, also known as “Asiad,” which will take place from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2 in Jakarta and Palembang, Moovit will send out notifications of all transit updates and changes. The app provides real-time transit arrivals and directions, as well as trip plans, service alerts and Get Off Alerts.

“Moovit has the most complete, up-to-date coverage of all modes of transit and lines in Jakarta & Palembang than any other provider,” the company said in a statement. Moovit previously helped organize major sport events, including the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the UEFA EURO 2016.

The crowdsourced public-transportation app, created by an Israeli startup of the same name, has become the world’s most downloaded transit app and has more than 200 million users in 2,500 cities in 82 countries.

The startup was set up by Nir Erez in Tel Aviv in February 2012, together with Roy Bick and Yaron Evron. The company has raised $131.5 million to date from investors, including Intel Capital and Sequoia Capital.

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