The International Paralympic Committee will meet next week to discuss a solution to Malaysia’s ban on Israeli athletes.
Following Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir’s reiteration that his nation will deny Israeli para swimmers visas for the 2019 WPS World Championships in July, Malaysian foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah added that it further “will not host any more events involving Israel or its representatives.”
Malaysian deputy sports minister Sim Hee Kyung told The Guardian the decision is “a means to protest against the continuous Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people.” A spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry called the ban “shameful,” saying it “totally opposes the Olympic spirit” and is inspired “no doubt by Malaysia’s PM Mahathir’s rabid antisemitism.”
The IPC told SwimSwam last week in response to Mahathir that it was “disappointed” and aiming to find a solution. Now, after the ban was extended to all sports, the governing body says it will discuss the issue at a meeting in London next week.
The IPC published the following statement Wednesday:
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 sport 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.
From July 29th to August 4th, 2019, the Malaysian city of Kuching is set to host hundreds of swimmers from 70 countries for the meet, which is one of the possible qualifying opportunities for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
To be eligible for Tokyo, para-swimmers are supposed to have competed at either a WPS World Series event, Worlds, any WPS Regional or Regional Open Championships, or the 2019 Parapan American Games in the timeframe of October 1, 2018 through the 2020 WPS European Open Championships (the dates of which have yet to be announced).
Prime Minister Mahathir added that the standoff could end in a location change: “If they [International Paralympic Committee] want to withdraw Malaysia’s right to host the championship, they can do so.