(JTA) — The International Paralympic Committee said it was “disappointed” that Malaysia will not allow Israeli swimmers to enter the country to participate in the World Championship event.
The event scheduled from July 29 to August 4 is a qualifying event for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. Hundreds of swimmers from 70 countries are expected to compete.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday said Malaysia would deny visas to Israeli swimmers.
He challenged the International Paralympic Committee to sanction the country, saying “If they want to withdraw Malaysia’s right to host the championship, they can do so,” the AFP news service reported.
Malaysia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Entry to Malaysia on an Israeli passport is prohibited.
The IPC said it would work to “find a solution” for the Israeli swimmers.
In July, the International Judo Federation, canceled two international tournaments, the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and the Tunis Grand Prix, “until governmental guarantee is given to ensure free and equal participation of all nations at the said events.” Two months later, the United Arab Emirates agreed to the conditions.
The decision came after the previous year five Israeli judokas won medals in Abu Dhabai but tournament organizers refused to play Israel’s national anthem. The Israeli competitors also were required to wear the uniform of the International Judo Federation and received their medals under an IJF flag.