Tal Flicker, the Israeli judoka who won a gold medal in Abu Dhabi, said he chose to sing the Israeli national anthem by himself on the podium when the organizers of the tournament banned it.

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Israeli judoka Tal Flicker, who won a gold medal in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam tournament Thursday, told Channel 2 News he is “very excited and happy” about the achievement and is not deterred by the controversies surrounding the organizers’ refusal to play the Israeli national anthem and wave the Israeli flag.

“When I got the gold, my first reaction was big excitement,” he said. “I decided to sing Hatikvah (the Israeli anthem) on the podium because Israel is my country, I’m proud to be an Israeli.”

Instead of Hatikvah, the organizers played the anthem of the Intenational Judo Federation (IJF). “That,” Flicker said, “was just background noise to me.”

When asked if he felt discouraged by what was happening, Flicker replied, “We came to the competition very focused. We had one goal – to win a medal, and I’m glad we were able to do that.”