update deskMiddle East

Israeli weightlifters to compete at World Championships in Saudi Arabia

The four Israeli athletes, two men and two women, are hoping to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

A delegation of Israeli athletes will compete in the World Weightlifting Championships in Saudi Arabia, Kan News reported Sunday.

David Litvinov, Artur Mugurdumov, Nicole Rubanovich and Celia Gold are reportedly participating in the event, with a view to qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The competition in Riyadh has brought together some 2,500 athletes from across the globe and runs from Sept. 4-17.

“It’s unusual and the truth is that it makes us very happy that we even have this opportunity. In the end, it’s a victory over politics,” said Litvinov.

The Israelis are also expected to compete in December in Doha, Qatar, another country with no official ties with the Jewish state.

In July, a team of Israelis competed in Saudi Arabia in the annual FIFAe World Cup, which sees entrants play in the latest version of the immensely popular soccer video game.

The team, which consisted of three gamers, their coach and their manager, entered the Saudi capital via a connecting flight in Dubai using their Israeli passports and were provided with security detail 24/7 during their week-and-a-half visit.

“It was very interesting to be in a country which we have no official relations with, but within a minute you get used to it and it seems like any other place in the world,” team manager Zvika Kosma recently told JNS.

He said the team was given VIP treatment from the moment they landed at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport until their departure. Police whisked them to a side office to have their Israeli passports scanned on both arrival and departure, bypassing local airport officials, Kosman added.

“The truth is I felt like a king,” Naseem Eissat, 20, one of the players, told JNS in a telephone interview. “We were hosted in the best possible way. I felt completely comfortable and at ease.”

Israel’s participation in the events in the Sunni Muslim kingdom come amid U.S.-brokered talks to forge a normalization agreement between Jerusalem and Riyadh.

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