Polish Olympian refuses to coach Malaysian swim team due to anti-Israel policy

January 30, 2019 Agencies
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Four-time Polish Olympic swimmer Bart Kizierowski has rejected an offer to coach Malaysia’s national swimming team, saying that he would not train the Malaysians after they refused to admit Israeli athletes into the country.

Kizierowski Bartosz

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) stripped Malaysia over the weekend of its right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships after the country announced that it would not allow Israelis to compete.

“I was offered a very attractive coaching position from the Malaysian Swimming Federation,” Kizierowski wrote on Twitter. “Among other personal reasons, I declined that function due to recent statements made by Malaysian politicians regarding refusal of visa for athletes that are supposed to compete at the world championships organized by that country. There is no place for that in sport.”

“Politics and sport are never a good mix,” said IPC President Andrew Parsons after the body governing board decided to disqualify Malaysia from hosting the event. “We are disappointed that Israeli athletes would not have been allowed to compete in Malaysia.”

“All World Championships must be open to all eligible athletes and nations to compete safely and free from discrimination,” said Parsons. “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.”

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad responded Monday that “Israel is a criminal state and deserves to be condemned.”

“We maintain we have a right to bar Israelis from our country,” he said. “When the world condemns us for this, we have a right to say that the world is being hypocritical.”

Meanwhile, executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council Dr Colin Rubenstein said: “As the IPC point out, that movement is all about the ideal that sport can bring people together and help overcome differences, whether they involve differing physical abilities, or political or religious beliefs and allegiances. It is just common sense that a country that openly says it will ban paralympic athletes because of their nationality simply cannot host a major paralympic event.

It is a pity that Prime Minister Mahathir has decided that the noble ideals of the paralympic movement are of secondary importance to his long-standing, overwhelming hatred for Israel and the Jewish people.

Malaysia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, which it has been boycotting since 1948. Its policy of estrangement has nothing to do with settlements or occupation. For nearly 50 years its current Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has been among the most vocal and unashamed purveyors of antisemitism on the international scene, making no distinction between the State of Israel and Jews.

At a time when majority Muslim nations like Chad are openly embracing Israel, at the age of  93, Mahathir has decided Malaysia must remain stuck in the permanent state of denial he has promulgated throughout his career. His stance is not only racist and unconscionable, it has never in any way advanced the cause of peace or assisted the Palestinians to establish a state of their own.The IPC’s emphatic, ethical decision in this case should be a model for all other sporting bodies when faced with similar discriminatory conduct by host states.”


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