The International Paralympic Committee said it would strip Malaysia of the right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships because it banned Israeli athletes.
By World Israel News Staff
On Sunday, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said it would strip Malaysia of the right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships, after the southeast Asian country refused to host Israeli athletes.
The event was due to be held in the city of Kuching between July 29 and August 4.
The IPC Governing Board made the decision “after the Home Ministry of Malaysia failed to provide the necessary guarantees that Israeli Para swimmers could participate, free from discrimination, and safely in the Championships,” the IPC said in a statement.
IPC President Andrew Parsons said: “All World Championships must be open to all eligible athletes and nations to compete safely and free from discrimination. When a host country excludes athletes from a particular nation, for political reasons, then we have absolutely no alternative but to look for a new Championships host.”
“The Paralympic Movement has, and always will be, motivated by a desire to drive inclusion, not exclusion. Regardless of the countries involved in this matter, the IPC would take the same decision again if it was to face a similar situation involving different countries,” he said.
The American Jewish Committee praised the decision as “a great victory for the Paralympic spirit.”
The AJC had submitted a petition to the IPC Governing Board earlier calling on it to condemn Malaysia’s ban on Israeli athletes and to relocate the event to a country willing to host athletes from Israel.
In early January, Malaysia’s government decided that no Israelis would be allowed to enter the country for any event.
“Even if we have already committed to hosting an event, they will not be allowed,” Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said on Jan. 16.
The IPC says that when it signed a contract with the Paralympic Council of Malaysia to host the swimming championships it was assured that all athletes and countries would be able to participate.
“Since then, there has been a change of political leadership and the new Malaysian government has different ideas. Politics and sport are never a good mix and we are disappointed that Israeli athletes would not have been allowed to compete in Malaysia,” the IPC said in its statement.
Some 600 swimmers from 60 nations were expected to take part in the event.
The IPC is currently looking for a new host nation.