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A Swimmer Won a Heat, Looked at the TV -- And Realized Something Was Missing (UPDATED)


"What’s missing from the picture?”

Israel's Guy Barnea competes in the semi-final of the men's 50m backstroke event at the 32nd LEN European swimming championships on August 20, 2014 in Berlin. (John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images)

Update: Later on Sunday, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the Israeli flag graphic broadcast on Qatar television did include the Star of David at the center; however, the star appeared very faint and possibly in a lighter shade of blue than the stripes on the Israeli flag and thus was not visible to some viewers. The star was seen in this screenshot of Qatar TV’s broadcast later obtained by Israel’s Channel 1 television, Haaretz reported:

Image source: Facebook via Haaretz Image source: Facebook via Haaretz

Earlier on Sunday, the major Israeli news outlets reported the swimmer’s assertion that there was no flag on screen.

Based on the latest information, Haaretz called the issue “the controversy that wasn't.”

On the official flag of Israel, the stripes and star are the same shade of blue.

Original story:

An Israeli swimmer noticed something unusual about the television graphic used to identify his country when he won a heat in the 200-meter butterfly Sunday during the world short course swimming championships being held in Qatar.

In the race broadcast on Qatari television, a closeup was shown of Guy Barnea, the 27-year-old Israeli swimmer who won the heat, but next to his name there appeared an Israeli flag with the blue Star of David missing.

"What’s missing from the picture?” asked Israeli swimmer Guy Barnea on Facebook. "What’s missing from the picture?” asked Israeli swimmer Guy Barnea on Facebook.

Viewers could see the full Israeli flag on Barnea’s swim cap as well as the initials of his country, ISR, but underneath his photo there appeared a graphic showing a white flag with only two blue stripes.

Barnea posted a screenshot on Facebook and quipped, “200 butterfly … what’s missing from the picture?”

The swimmer took down the post, but not before Israeli news sites, including Haaretz and NRG, captured the image.

This isn’t the first time the Israeli flag has been obscured on Qatari television, the Israeli news site NRG reported Sunday.

During a swimming competition last year, Qatari television omitted the Israeli flag in a race where female Israeli swimmer Amit Ivry competed.

Ivry’s lane was left blank on screen, while other swimmers’ lanes showed their country flag. NRG reported that as a result, Qatar was reprimanded by the organizing body.

On Sunday, “they again found a way to convey the message that they do not like Israel,” NRG wrote.

The Jerusalem Post reported Friday that another politically charged incident occurred on Thursday at the Qatari competition when an Iranian swimmer pulled out of a heat where he was scheduled to swim against an Israeli, in following Iranian guidelines against competing with Israelis.

This post has been updated.

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