(January 28, 2019 / JNS) Malaysia was officially stripped of the right to host a Paralympic swimming championship by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Sunday after issuing a ban on Israeli athletes.
“Politics and sport are never a good mix,” said IPC President Andrew Parsons in a statement following the decision. “We are disappointed that Israeli athletes would not have been allowed to compete in Malaysia.”
“The Paralympic Movement has, and always will be, motivated by a desire to drive inclusion, not exclusion,” he added. “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.”
Malaysia banned Israelis from the World Para Swimming Championships in Borneo earlier this month, with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad saying Israeli athletes would not be welcome, and foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah declaring that his country would “not host any more events involving Israel or its representatives.”
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon praised the decision, tweeting that “this is a victory of values over hatred and bigotry, a strong statement in favor of freedom and equality. Thank you @Paralympics for your brave decision!!!”
In 2015, two Israeli windsurfers had to withdraw from a competition on the island of Langkawi after Malaysia refused to issue them visas. Two years later, in 2017, Malaysia refused to host a FIFA world soccer conference due to the planned attendance of an Israeli delegation.