Swimmer withdraws from world championships to boycott Israel’s participation

Hammam Hashim Mualla withdrew from a 200-meter butterfly race when he found out a swimmer from Israel was also taking part in the competition. 

By Shiryn Ghermezian, The Algemeiner

A Syrian swimmer has pulled out of the 2023 World Aquatics Masters Championships in Japan due to Israel’s participation in the competition.

Hammam Hashim Mualla was set to participate in the men’s 200-meter butterfly race as part of the international championship in the city of Fukuoka but withdrew from the race when he found out a swimmer from Israel was also taking part in the competition, Iran’s state-controlled PressTV reported. Syria and Israel have no formal diplomatic relations.

Mualla was born in Damascus, the Syrian capital, in 1973, and is a member of Syria’s national swim team. According to the Syrian Arab News Agency, he has participated in many local, international, and continental championships on behalf of his home country.

The governing body of the World Masters Swimming Championships said that while it respects Mualla’s decision to pull out of the tournament, it encourages all athletes to participate regardless of their country of origin, Breaking News Network reported.

The 2023 World Aquatics Masters Championships was held across the three Japanese cities of Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Kagoshima from Aug. 2-11.

It is fairly common for athletes from countries that have a hostile history with or no diplomatic ties to Israel to boycott Israeli competitors and withdraw from international tournaments to avoid facing opponents from the Jewish state. An Iranian youth table tennis player did just that in June at the 2023 Special Olympics World Games, and other athletes from Iran — as well as Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Kuwait, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Jordan, and other Arab and Muslim-majority countries — have done the same many times in the past.

The 2023 World Beach Games that was scheduled to take place this month was even cancelled when its host country, Indonesia, pulled out as hosts after the governor of the Indonesian island of Bali said he would not allow Israeli athletes on his island.