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Malaysia Is No Longer Para-Swimming Host After Banning Israelis "For Political Reasons"

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced its decision on Sunday, 27 January.

Cover image via Al Jazeera

Malaysia is no longer allowed to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships after announcing a ban on Israeli athletes earlier this month

Al Jazeera reported that the decision was made by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) yesterday, 27 January, after its governing board met in London. 

"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," IPC president Andrew Parsons said in a statement yesterday, according to Al Jazeera.

IPC president Andrew Parsons.

Image via Deutsche Welle

Parsons also vowed that IPC will not hesitate to do the same to other countries if it faces a similar situation in the future

"All World Championships must be open to all eligible athletes and nations to compete safely and free from discrimination," Parsons said, according to Channel NewsAsia

"The Paralympic Movement has, and always will be, motivated by a desire to drive inclusion, not exclusion," the IPC added, before stressing that the Committee will take the same decision again if a similar situation emerges involving different countries.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Tokyo 2020

Parsons also claimed that the IPC was assured that eligible athletes and countries would be allowed to participate in the event when Malaysia was awarded the hosting rights in 2017.

"Since then, there has been a change of political leadership, and the new Malaysian government has different ideas," the IPC president said. 

"Politics and sport are never a good mix, and we are disappointed that Israeli athletes would not have been allowed to compete in Malaysia," he added.

Last week, Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad defended the government's ban on Israeli athletes at a press conference in Vienna, Austria

"Every country has the right to accept or refuse entry of anybody," Mahathir said at the conference on 22 January, according to Channel NewsAsia

The Prime Minister also referenced US President Donald Trump's idea for a border wall.

"You can see that in America now they are erecting a very high wall to prevent Mexicans from going to America. We have the same idea, that people who are undesirable for our country will be kept out of our country," he added.

Labelling Israel as a "criminal country", Mahathir also told Israeli athletes to "go to some other country".

"If their people (Israelis) want to compete in sport, they can go to some other country," the Prime Minister said, before adding that the athletes came from a country "which does what it liked". 

"They (Israel) have raided our ship carrying aid to the Gaza people, there are many other things done by Israel that are against international laws and against morality," Mahathir added, according to Channel NewsAsia.

Al Jazeera reported that the Prime Minister had described Jews as "hook-nosed" in October 2018.

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq has also stood by the government's decision on the Israel ban

Image via Malay Mail

"Malaysia should not be complicit to a brutal and inhumane regime. Our Palestinian brothers and sisters have been murdered in cold blood and those who live, imprisoned for life in the open-air prison (of Gaza) tightly controlled by the Israeli regime," Syed Saddiq wrote in an Instagram post on 18 January.

The Muar Member of Parliament (MP) also accused Israel of being a hypocrite and playing the "victim-card" towards the international community.

What do you think about the ban on Israeli athletes? Let us know in the comments below.

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