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Palestinians say Bahrain, UAE participation in Giro’s Israel leg was ‘stab in back’

The Palestine Olympic Committee issued a scathing statement against the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for taking part in the opening races of the yearly Giro d’Italia cycling competition in Israel.

Hundreds of fans and supporters cheer the bicycle riders of the 101st Giro d'Italia, one of the most prestigious road-cycling races in the world, as they begin the race in Jerusalem on May 4, 2018. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Hundreds of fans and supporters cheer the bicycle riders of the 101st Giro d'Italia, one of the most prestigious road-cycling races in the world, as they begin the race in Jerusalem on May 4, 2018. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

The Palestine Olympic Committee issued a scathing statement against the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for taking part in the opening races of the yearly Giro d’Italia cycling competition last weekend, which took place in Israel.

The 101-year-old Giro d’Italia is one of the world’s highest-profile annual bicycle races and the largest international sporting event ever to take place in Israel.

The 2018 Giro began with a 10-kilometer time trial in Jerusalem on Friday, followed by a 167-kilometer stage from Haifa to Tel Aviv and a third stage on Sunday, taking riders 220 kilometers from the Upper Negev city of Beersheva all the way down to the port city of Eilat. The racers then made their way to Sicily for the next leg of the race.

In a published statement, the Palestine Olympic Committee called the participation of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in the race “a stab in the back to the great sacrifices made by the Palestinian people … and a free service for the occupation.”

Neither of the teams responded to the attack.

Though the UAE and Bahrain both sent eight-person teams, none of the participants were Bahraini or Emirati citizens. However, both teams wore jerseys emblazoned with the countries’ national colors and the brand names of the sponsors: Bahrain Petroleum and the state-owned Emirates Airlines.

Malak Hassan, the founder of the 3,000-member Cycling Palestine club, told Reuters that “the UAE and Bahrain know a lot about our cause, and there was no need for us to explain to them why they shouldn’t take part.”

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