Malaysia Stripped of 2019 WPS World Championships Hosting Rights

In response to nation’s ongoing refusal to grant Israeli visas to enter the country for the upcoming 2019 World Para Swimming World Championships, Malaysia has been stripped of its rights to host the event, the International Paralympic Committee announced Sunday.

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

Parsons cited Malaysia‘s change in leadership in May 2018 as a reason for the previously unforeseen issue.

“In September 2017 when the IPC signed the contract with the Paralympic Council of Malaysia (NPC Malaysia) to host the World Para Swimming Championships, we had assurances that all eligible athletes and countries would be allowed to participate in the event with their safety assured,” he said. “Since then, there has been a change of political leadership and the new Malaysian government has different ideas. Politics and sport are never a good mix and we are disappointed that Israeli athletes would not have been allowed to compete in Malaysia.”

Parsons continued: “The Paralympic Movement has, and always will be, motivated by a desire to drive inclusion, not exclusion. 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, a majority-Muslim country, has long enforced a policy of disallowing Israeli passport-holders from entering the country due to a lack of diplomatic relations between the two nations. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reaffirmed that policy in the context of the meet in early January: “We will not allow them [to enter]. If they come, then it is an offense,” he said. “If they want to withdraw the championships’ hosting rights from Malaysia, then they can try to do so.”

Mohamed also cited United States President Donald Trump‘s plan to build a wall on the US-Mexico border in upholding Malaysia‘s tactics.

“Every country has the right to accept or refuse entry of anybody… You can see that in America now they are erecting a very high wall to prevent Mexicans from going to America,” he said. “We have the same idea, that people who are undesirable for our country will be kept out of our country.”

More context:

Malaysian Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman stood by the policy following the IPC‘s decision.

Malaysia stands firm with our decision on the ground of humanity and compassion for the Palestinian plight. We will not compromise,” he said in a statement. “If hosting an international sporting event is more important than standing up for our Palestinian brothers and sisters who get murdered, maimed and tortured by the Netanyahu regime, that means Malaysia has truly lost its moral compass.”

The city of Kuching was set to host hundreds of swimmers from 60 countries for the meet, which is scheduled for July 29th to August 4th, 2019. It serves as 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).

Parsons said that the IPC is now seeking applications for a new host. “We will strive to maintain the same dates and conditions for the Championships as to not upset the training schedules of athletes who aim to peak for the end of July and early August,” he said. “However, we may need to be flexible in this area bearing in mind the circumstances we face.”

Due to the devastating earthquake that struck Mexico City in late 2017, the 2017 edition of the WPS World Championships were postponed by a month and saw a number of athletes drop out of the event.

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Good decision
Jews should be allowed to swim as well

David – I think it’s important to point out that Jewish-Americans or Jewish-French or Jewish-Russian athletes were not being blocked from visas. It was just citizens of Israel.

While at the end of the day, the roots of this ongoing conflict are based in part on religion, the Malaysian ban is not overtly and specifically against “Jewish” athletes, just “Israeli” athletes.

Subtle, but important, difference.

I agree with the sentiment, though. This was a good decision. You can’t rightly have a World Championship while excluding qualified athletes from any country.


That’s the actual point. Israel as an NPC is a member in good standing and if you want to host a World Championships you’re going to have to host all of the sanctioning bodies attending members. Full stop.

It shouldn’t matter why an administration doesn’t like a particular NPC (some might not want to host Americans, for example, as they execute children and imprison lawful asylum seekers others might not want to host the Irish as their government recognizes homegrown terrorists as part of their government for example) you don’t bid and you certainly don’t win if you won’t play by the rules of the game.


The problem however stemmed from when the prime minister of Malaysia mahathir mohamad assumed office in 2017. The prime minister is a well known rabid anti-Semite and in speeches and interviews refers to Jews as “hooknose-people” whilst bashing them.
This piece is from an article I read: “The IPC said in its Sunday statement that in 2017, when it signed the contract with Malaysia, the government had provided assurances that all athletes would be able to participate without discrimination. But a regime change that saw Mahathir rise again to power meant those assurances were withdrawn.”
So Jew-hatred definitely played a role.

For sure, David. I just didn’t want anybody reading your comment to misconstrue it as “they weren’t letting Jews of other nationalities in” or that “Israeli non-Jews were being allowed, but not Jewish-Israelis.”

Current Swimmer

The question becomes “Why Israelis”? The answer is because they do not recognize Israel as a legitimate state because of religious intolerance and Anti-Semitism. Banning Israelis is targeted at the Jewish population, given the majority of the country is Jewish and the majority of sportsmen are Jewish. Looking past that and claiming that it is not Anti-Semitism because it is “just” Israelis and not Jews from the US, etc. is looking through rose-colored glasses. When Trump banned several Muslim countries from the US, it was for religious intolerance. Does that mean that Muslims within the US couldn’t live in the US? No. Did it mean that French Muslims couldn’t come to the US? No. Was it still religious hatred? 100%.… Read more »


Braden. When this is allowed do you think Jews of other countries would feel safe going ?


” It was just citizens of Israel” What a strange argument and a strange position. They don’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Not just some hypothetical country that Malaysian government doesn’t like because of the way people live in this century.


Anyone that is anti Israel is Anti Jewish. It’s just the beginning down the line of allowed to happen.


Explain your logic


Hmm, I think the Jews from across the spectrum who are anti-zionist would disagree with this statement…


Don’t you mean self hating people?


Not just people of the Jewish faith. There are Isreali Christians, muslims, Jews and Buddhists. Mr. Rahman seems like a real intellectual. Citing to Trump and confusing illegal entry into a country with legal entry. Good choice revoking this bid. Bigotry has no place in sports—or anywhere else.


Sure, there are people of many faiths in Israel. But don’t forget…they just deported almost 20,000 refugees over fears that Jewish would no longer be the majority religion.

I can’t believe this Isarel-Palestine thing is still going on in 2019. Maybe they just need to have a good old fashioned war, then when one side obliterates the other (I think we know which way that would go), everyone can move forward with the new reality. That’s how the world has been shaped for millenia. I’d hate to see more war, but the childishness from both sides is ridiculous.


Trying to bar South Africa from competition was bigotry?

M Palota

Equating apartheid South Africa to Israel is not even false equivalence. It’s an outrageous stretch that insults not only Israel but also the victims of the pre-1994 regime in South Africa.


Which one massacred hundreds of protestors at a fence? Oh victims like Nelson Mandela who supported the Palestinians or his grandson who called Israel an apartheid state. You do know many South Africans support the Palestinians and not the Isrselis? LMAO how do you remeber to breathe

Steve Nolan

Lol, yeah u wrong.


On which front


Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman is a total joke. If he cares about the “Palestinian plight” so much then why doesn’t he take all of them into his country? Malaysia is number 122 in population density, plenty of space.

Anyway, great decision by IPC, there should not be any discrimination based on origin and politics have no room in any sport.


Do you care about refugees?


Do refugees care about me?


Do all those Israeli athletes care about the prime minister? Go on reveal more how dumb your logic is


Their political preference is irrelevant. They just want to compete


Would you let literal Nazis compete?

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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