JERUSALEM (JTA) — The International Paralympic Committee stripped Malaysia of the right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships over its refusal to allow Israeli athletes to enter the country to participate.
The IPC made its announcement on Sunday. Malaysia, it said in a statement, “failed to provide the necessary guarantees that Israeli Para swimmers could participate, free from discrimination, and safely in the Championships. This includes full compliance with the IPC protocols related to anthems and flags, and where required the provision of relevant visas.”
In doubling down earlier this month on his country’s refusal to allow Israeli athletes into the country for any event, Malaysian Foreign Minister Mahathir Mohamad challenged the International Paralympic Committee to take away the world event, expected to draw hundreds of swimmers from 70 countries, from Malaysia.
Malaysia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Entry to Malaysia on an Israeli passport is prohibited.
“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,” the committee said in a statement.
The event, which had been scheduled from July 29 to August 4 , is a qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“All World Championships must be open to all eligible athletes and nations to compete safely and free from discrimination. 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,” Andrew Parsons, IPC president, said.