After some Israel Premier Tech cyclists and team personnel expressed discomfort with the presence of Israel logos on clothing, they were issued a neutral training kit to train. According to an article in WielerFlits, the team introduced a special jersey without any national symbols, following the Oct. 7 attack in Gaza. But what about when racing?
Plain kit for safety
Wearing neutral kit when training to protect themselves is not a new phenomenon. The American squad has, on many occasions in the past, been told not to wear their regular national team kit when training in various parts of the world. At the 1995 world championships in Duitama, Colombia, they were issued plain blue jerseys out of fear of being targeted or kidnapped. The same was the case in Morocco at the 1986 junior worlds. One rider told Canadian Cycling Magazine that they wore their USA Cycling jerseys anyway and had a rock thrown at them when they were changing a flat. The anti-American sentiment was apparently a result of the USA recently bombing Libya a few months before in April.
Israel’s Warning to Citizens
In November, due to a rise in anti-Semitic violence after the beginning of the ongoing conflict in Gaza, Israel government spokesman Eylon Levy asked citizens to avoid wearing “outward signs of their Israeli or Jewish identity.”
“We are also asking citizens—and truly I cannot believe that we are doing this—we are asking all citizens to avoid displaying any outward signs of their Israeli or Jewish identity when traveling anywhere in the world,” Levy posted on social media. “If you must travel, please make sure that you have the numbers of emergency services and the local Israeli embassies on speed dial. Keep away from anti-Israel, pro-jihad protests and remain alert and vigilant about your surroundings at all times.”
Protective measures in sports
In 2024, there are several races scheduled in the Middle East. In February Israel-Premier Tech is slated to race in the UAE Tour, for example.
In the past, there have been times during soccer matches when national teams with an uneasy relationship would take measures to protect the players–and fans. During the years of Saddam Hussein, for example, Iran-Iraq soccer matches would be held in a neutral area. Other measures taken would be…