Australian Paralympic organisation wants swimmers from all nations to participate in Malaysian event

January 23, 2019 by Elana Bowman
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Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has been accused of “rabid antisemitism” by the Israeli Foreign Ministry after he said his country would not host any more sports events involving competitors from the Jewish state.

Gold medal Matt Levy [centre] with the silver and bronze medallists

Two weeks ago Mohamad said Israeli swimmers would not be allowed into Malaysia — a Muslim majority country — to take part in the World Para Swimming Championships this July.

As Malaysia does not recognise nor have diplomatic relations with the state of Israel, Malaysian passports bear the inscription: “This passport is valid for all countries except Israel”. Israeli passport holders are not permitted to enter Malaysia without written permission from the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Australian Paralympic committee believes that swimmers from all nations should be participating.

Swimmers from some 70 countries are expected to compete at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in the eastern state of Sarawak from July 29-Aug. 4.

Kuala Lumpur has rejected all pleas from the world sporting body to find a solution.

Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, met in his ministry by local groups lobbying for the Israeli athletes’ ban, said the government would refrain from hosting events featuring Israeli participants in the future.

“Even if we have already committed to hosting an event, they will not be allowed (into the country),” Abdullah said at a press conference.

A statement from the International Paralympic Committee was published on Facebook on 17 Jan 2019:

“The IPC is bitterly disappointed at the stance of the Malaysian government with regards to Israel’s participation at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships. The latest comments from the Foreign Minister now cover all sports events in the country as opposed to just July’s Para sport event.

While we continue dialogue with the Local Organising Committee and the National Paralympic Committee, the IPC Governing Board will be discussing this matter at its meeting in London next week.

World Championships should be open to all eligible nations and athletes. We will explore all options open to us to try and ensure the full participation of all eligible athletes.”

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman published their statement on Facebook on 17 Jan 2019:

“The Malaysian government has taken the decision to ban the participation of Israelis in official international sport events in Malaysia, including the participation of athletes with disabilities in a swimming competition organized by the International Paralympic Committee.

This is shameful and totally opposes the Olympic spirit.

Israel condemns the decision, inspired no doubt by Malaysia’s PM Mahatir’s rabid antisemitism.

We call upon the  International Paralympic Committee to change this wrong decision or change the venue of the event. Sports Minister Miri Regev has addressed the President of the International Paralympic Committee with such a request.”

The Israeli Paralympic Committee’s Leah Schneider told J-Wire: “The Israeli Paralympic Committee together with the Paralympic International Committee hope that the problem will be solved. Any additional statements at this stage may only be harmful.”

Tim Mannion, the General Manager, Communications of Australian Paralympic Committee, added: “It is the view of the Australian Paralympic Committee that eligible athletes from every nation should be given the opportunity to compete at the World Para-Swimming Championships in Malaysia

We have been in contact with the International Paralympic Committee to communicate this view and to offer support to the IPC in its ongoing work with the Local Organising Committee in Kuching, the Malaysian National Paralympic Committee and Government to ensure the right outcome is achieved.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

Federal MP Michael Danby has called on the Australian government to make moves to have the events relocated to Australia.

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