On Monday evening, the second day of the FINA Swimming World Cup 2013 in Doha, the Israeli flag disappeared from the live broadcast from Qatar on several occasions. Instead, a colorless flag was displayed alongside the names of the Israeli swimmers.
The most noticeable case was when Amit Ivry, Israel's most successful female swimmer, jumped into the water. Although her name appeared in the 100-meter individual medley swim, it was accompanied by a white flag without the blue Star of David and two horizontal blue stripes.
The organizers had no trouble mentioning her record achievement in the past week: A silver medal, and another record – 58.66 seconds in the non-Olympic heat, which marks an improvement of almost a second from her previous record set last week.
Recognize the Israeli flag? (Screenshot)
Ivry, who won a bronze medal in Dubai, lost in the women's 100-meter individual medley to Hungary's Katinka Hosszú, who took home the gold medal in Doha with a score of 58.43 seconds.
The Israeli swimmer also starred in the women's 100-meter backstroke final, stopping the clocks at 59.89 seconds and finishing sixth.
Israel's male swimmers completed their competitions in the Persian Gulf without any medals, but with many finals and impressive results. Guy Barnea ranked fifth in 50-meter backstroke with a score of 23.78 seconds, not far from his excellent national record.
Gal Nevo finished in the same place in the 200-meter individual medley, turning in a time of 1:57.46 minutes, three seconds better than his score in Dubai.
Yakov Toumarkin concluded the historic Israeli performance in Doha in the same place as his friends – fifth, scoring 1:54.69 in the 200-meter backstroke heat.
Gal Nevo jumps into water. 'Huge victory in Dubai' (screenshot)
In a Facebook status he wrote two days ago, Gal Nevo described the swimmers battle to be recognized as Israelis.
"Three years ago we arrived in Dubai, for the world championship, and were surprised to discover that despite the image of an advanced emirate, it is a Muslim country which refuses to recognize Israel.
"The name Israel was not mentioned, throughout the competition we were presented as ISR swimmers, and the editors of the television broadcast were instructed to do everything in their power to remove us and our flag from the frame.
"several days ago we arrived here for the second time, this time for the World Cup, and at the beginning of the competition it seemed like a rerun – one again ISR instead of Israel, and once again the television is excluding us from any possible frame.
Nevo added that at least in Dubai there appeared to be an improvement over time. "In the first finals we were still the ISR team. Somewhere during our four finals and Amit's medal we finally became the Israel team. For the very first time, our name is mentioned in Dubai. A small record has been broken."
On the last day, he said, the swimmers were finally shown with a flag of Israel "on the hat, on the shirt, in the pool and on the scoreboard. It's hard to describe how something which seems almost ordinary everywhere else feels like a huge victory here."