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Israeli wins gold at Oman sailing competition in toned down award ceremony

Kiteboarder's on the first day of racing in the Formula Kite fleet at The 2021 Youth Sailing World Championships presented by Hempel, Al Mussanah, on December 13, 2021 in Muscat, Oman [Lloyd Images / Getty Images]
Kiteboarder's on the first day of racing in the Formula Kite fleet at The 2021 Youth Sailing World Championships presented by Hempel, Al Mussanah, on December 13, 2021 in Muscat, Oman [Lloyd Images / Getty Images]

An Israeli kiteboarder who won a gold medal at the Youth Sailing World Championship held in Oman last week says the authorities banned the playing of the national anthem and the displaying of the Israeli flag.

According to an interview with Israel's Channel 12 news published on Friday, 18-year-old Gal Zuckerman revealed that the national team participated "under the radar" due to the sultanate's limited diplomatic ties with Israel.

Zuckerman said her victory "caused a bit of a mess", as "everyone's anthems were cancelled, because of me"

"I really wanted to tell family, mom and dad, and friends I had won, but I could not, I was forbidden. Nobody knew about the achievement in real-time," she added.

The competition's official website however, does display the Israeli flag next to Zuckerman's name on the winner's list, posted last Friday. The following day, the Israeli public broadcaster Kan reported the win.

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It was also reported that Israeli sailors Roy Levi and Ariel Gal came in third place in the 420 Dinghy race competition.

Hosted at the Sultanate's seaside resort of Mussaah, the championship was the 50th edition and included a total of 433 sailors from 56 countries taking part in 11 youth events. Men's and Women's Kiteboarding FormulaKite were new categories added to the competition and the sport will also appear for the first time at the upcoming Paris Olympics.

Although there have been several speculative reports that Oman may follow Gulf states UAE and Bahrain in normalising ties with Israel, Oman's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Badr Al-Busaidi said in February that the sultanate was satisfied with its current relationship with Israel, which involved "the appropriate channels of communication".

In July, Al-Busaidi reiterated Oman's position in an interview with London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, that his country will not be the third Gulf state to normalise ties with Israel, following a telephone conversation with his Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid.

In 2018 the late-Sultan Qaboos Bin Said hosted then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Muscat in what local media reports said was the country's effort to push forward the stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, in addition to discussing a number of issues of common interest. However, Oman's hesitancy in normalisation with Israel may also be over fears it could severely undermine important, historic ties with neighbouring Iran.

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