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Indonesia drops World Beach Games, likely over Israel participation

The event has been canceled after the Muslim-majority host nation pulled out.

A 4x4 beach volleyball match. Source: Twitter.
A 4x4 beach volleyball match. Source: Twitter.

The World Beach Games have been canceled after Indonesia withdrew as host of the tournament at the last minute, leaving insufficient time to find a replacement.

Bali was to welcome countries from around the world, including Israel, for the second edition of the event from August 5-15, but the Olympic committee of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country said that Jakarta refused to release the budget.

FIFA in March stripped Indonesia of hosting rights for the U-20 World Cup soccer tournament following objections to Israel’s participation.

The Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) made the Beach Games announcement on Tuesday, saying that it had to cancel the 14-sport event featuring 1,500 athletes from 100 nations because there was not enough time to find another host.

“It is with great surprise and extreme disappointment that ANOC has learnt that the Indonesian Olympic Committee (KOI) has withdrawn from its commitment to host the ANOC World Beach Games and the ANOC General Assembly in August 2023,” ANOC said.

“With the Games scheduled to take place in one month, the decision at such late notice prevents ANOC from being able to find an alternative host. So there is no option but to cancel this year’s edition of the Games in Bali in August as well as the ANOC General Assembly.”

Qatar, another Muslim-majority country that does not maintain diplomatic relations with Israel, hosted the first World Beach Games in 2019, which included the participation of Israeli athletes.

The FIFA U-20 World Cup was moved to Argentina, where the Israelis went on a historic run, beating Brazil in the quarterfinals before losing to Uruguay in the final four. The Israelis finished the tournament in third place with a consolation win against South Korea.

Israel kicks off against England on Wednesday night in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship semifinals at Batumi Stadium in the Republic of Georgia.

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