Malaysia faces ban for refusing Israeli athletes

Israeli team still waiting to receive visas for the World Table Tennis Championships to be held in Kuala Lumpur in February.

Shoshana Miskin ,

Avigdor Lieberman plays table tennis (illustration)
Avigdor Lieberman plays table tennis (illustration)
Photo: Kobi Gideon / Flash 90

Malaysia faces a possible ban from hosting major international table tennis events unless it gives Israel visas to compete in next month's world team championships, according to the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM).

The OCM said in a statement Friday that the government has yet to decide on whether to grant visas to Israeli participants in the World Team Table Tennis Championships in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur next month.

Judit Farago, chief executive officer of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), gave the warning as the results of the Israeli team's visa applications remaining undecided. "If they deny visas, then Malaysia will not be awarded any world title events in the future,” she said.

Israel’s table tennis association has been working with its Malaysian counterpart, but the matter has not been resolved.

This comes a month after the Israel Sailing Association withdrew its athletes Yoav Omer and Noy Drihan and coach Meir Yaniv, after they were denied visas to compete at the Youth Sailing World Championships in Malaysia, just 24 hours before the event.

Malaysia, a Muslim majority state in Southeast Asia that does not have diplomatic ties with Israel, forbade the delegates to compete under the Israeli flag, to use any symbol identifiable with Israel on their clothes or surfboards, and would not play the Israeli national anthem should an Israeli win a gold medal.

OCM secretary Datuk Low Beng Choo said, "I understand the government's policy on Israel, but on the other hand, Malaysia also needs to understand that we are bound by certain terms and conditions if we want to host certain world sporting events."



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