The Dubai organizers of this year's FINA Swimming World Cup in Doha have broken the world swimming organization's ethical standards after the Qatari body tasked with overseeing the event removed an Israeli flag from outside one of its venues and state broadcasters whited out the Israeli flag on the swimming lanes as they were seen on TV.
Aspire Zone, a 2.5 square kilometer (1 square mile) sporting zone in the Qatari capital, may have been responding to pressure from local groups, who expressed opposition to raising the Israeli flag publicly. Qatar won the bid to host the 2022 World Soccer Cup. It will be the first Arab state to host the tournament.
According to the English-language website Doha News, the hubbub began on the back of a single tweet, which showed an amateur photograph of the Israeli flag alongside several others.
"At the pool in Qatar, #FINA, another picture of an Israeli flag demonstrating the team participating in the tournament, outside the Aspire Zone this time," the tweet read, ending with a hashtag on the Arabic word for "normalization," which commonly refers to Israel.
A security guard told Doha News on Monday that the flag had been removed, which was apparently proved by later photographs of the same stadium uploaded to Twitter.
Neither Qatari officials nor FINA have responded to inquiries over the flag's removal.
In addition to erasing any physical semblance of the Jewish state, the Israeli flag was also "whitewashed" by Qatari broadcasters, who replaced Israel's iconic blue Star of David with a simple white box alongside Amit Ivri's name during her race.
The FINA Code of Ethics states that any tournament shall have "no discrimination on the basis of gender, race, religion, or political opinion."
It also says: "Officials shall remain politically neutral, in accordance with the principles and objectives of FINA, the confederations, associations, leagues and clubs, and generally act in a manner compatible with their function and integrity."
Meanwhile, activists continued to discuss Israeli participation at the event on Twitter under the hashtag (in Arabic) #normalization_with_the_Zionist_entity_doesn't_represent_me.
The competition has thus far gone particularly well for Ivri, who beat the Israeli record in the 100-meter individual medley, finishing at 58.66 seconds and taking the silver medal.
Also competing on Monday, Guy Barnea finished the 50-meter backstroke in 23.78 seconds, earning him fifth place.
Gal Nevo finished in exactly the same place in the 200-meter individual medley, stopping the clock at 1:57.46. Ya'akov Toumarkin finished in fifth place in the 200-meter backstroke, at 1:54.69 minutes.