Israel accuses Malaysia of anti-Semitism for banning athletes

Foreign Ministry condems Malaysia after it bans Israeli athletes from Paraolympics qualifying event. 'Sick anti-Semitism.'

Tzvi Lev ,

Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur

Israel's Foreign Ministry condemned Malaysia's "shameful" decision to ban Israeli athletes from participating in a qualifying event for the 2020 Paralympics.

“The Malaysian government has taken the decision to ban the participation of Israelis in official international sports events in Malaysia, including the participation of athletes with disabilities in a swimming competition organized by the International Paralympic Committee,” said a statement released by the Foreign Ministry.

“This is shameful and totally opposes the Olympic spirit.”

The condemnation added that “Israel condemns the decision, inspired no doubt by Malaysia’s PM Mahatir’s rabid anti-Semitism".

“We call upon the International Paralympic Committee to change this wrong decision or change the venue of the event. Sports Minister Miri Regev has addressed the president of the International Paralympic Committee with such a request.”

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said last week Israeli swimmers would not be allowed in for the tournament, which will take place in the city of Kuching in the eastern Sarawak state from July 29 to August 4.

The International Paralympic Committee expressed disappointment over Malaysia’s stance, though it said it would aim to “find a solution” to the issue.

On Wednesday, however, Abdullah doubled down on Malaysia's opposition to the Jewish state.

The cabinet has decided that "Malaysia will not host any event which has Israel participation or representation," he said, according to AFP.

This is not the first time that there have been issues with Malaysia over Israeli athletes taking part in competitions on its territory.

In 2016, the Israel Sailing Association withdrew athletes from a competition in Malaysia after they were denied entry visas to the country.

Later, Israel pulled its team from the World Team Table Tennis Championships in Kuala Lumpur following a row with the Malaysian government over entry visas.

In 2017, Malaysia decided not to host the 67th FIFA Conference because an Israeli delegation was scheduled to participate.

Many Muslim countries which do not have relations with Israel have barred its athletes from taking part in sporting events in their countries, or have restricted them in cases in which they have been permitted to participate.

In July, the International Judo Federation suspended both the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and an event in Tunisia from its schedule after the hosts failed to confirm that Israeli athletes would receive equal treatment.

Last October, organizers of the Grand Slam tournament in Abu Dhabi refused to play Israel’s national anthem when Israeli judoka Tal Flicker won a gold medal.

Flicker was wearing an International Judo Federation uniform and received his medal under an IJF flag while the anthem of the federation was played.