Israeli para-swimmers are being denied visas to enter the country for the 2019 World Para Swimming World Championships in Malaysia due to a lack of diplomatic relations between the Jewish and Muslim nations, Israeli news outlet YNet News reported Sunday.
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).
“For some time now we have been trying to guarantee our participation in the world championships. In principle, everyone says that it will work out, but we have still not received an invitation or visas,” Nisim Sasportas, chairman of the Israeli Olympic Committee, told YNet. “We are continuing to apply pressure. We have letters of support from the International Paralympics Committee, the European Paralympics Committee and the Olympic Athletes Committee, and hope that they allow the athletes and their security entourage to participate.”
According to YNet, officials with the Israel Paralympics Committee have tried to involve the country’s Ministry of Sport and Culture, as well as Israeli member of the International Olympic Committee Alex Gilady, but efforts have gone unanswered thus far.