Malaysia Bans Israeli Paralympic Swimmers Entry for Qualifying Event

A general view during a Swimming training session at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium ahead of the 2016 Paralympic Games on September 6, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images)
Alexandre Loureiro/Getty

Malaysia’s decision to ban Israeli swimmers from joining a qualifying event for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics has been called “disappointing” by Olympic organizers.

Malaysia is one of a number of Muslim-majority countries that refuse to acknowledge the existence of the Israel, with Israeli passport holders prohibited from entry.

The city of Kuching in the eastern Sarawak state will host hundreds of swimmers from 70 countries from July 29 to August 4 as a prelude to the next Olympic competition.

Malaysia Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Kuala Lumpur would deny visas to Israeli para swimmers seeking to attend the meet.

“We maintain our stand on the prohibition. If they do come, it is a violation,” he was quoted as saying by the official Bergama news agency. “If they (the International Paralympic Committee) want to withdraw Malaysia’s right to host the championship, they can do so.”

The IPC said in a statement that it was “disappointed” with Dr Mahathir’s comments, although it would aim to “find a solution” to the issue.

This is not the first time Dr. Mahathir has taken Israel to task on a public stage.

Last September he delivered a tirade against Israel during the U.N. General Assembly, the world’s biggest stage for peace and diplomacy.

Echoing previous public remarks, he said the creation of the Jewish state is the “root cause” of Islamic terrorism and justified the Palestinians taking up arms against Israel.

He told world leaders:

This present war against the terrorists will not end until the root causes are found and removed and hearts and minds are won. What are the root causes? In 1948, Palestinian land was seized to form the state of Israel. The Palestinians were massacred and forced to leave their land. Their homes and farms were seized … Frustrated and angry, unable to fight a conventional war, the Palestinians resort to what we call terrorism.

The world does not care even when Israel breaks international laws, seizing ships carrying medicine, food, and building materials in international waters. The Palestinians fired ineffective rockets which hurt no one. Massive retaliations were mounted by Israel, rocketing and bombing hospitals, schools and other buildings, killing innocent civilians including school children and hospital patients.

He stressed his position against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“The world rewards Israel by deliberately provoking Palestine by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Dr. Mahathir declared. “It is the anger and frustration of the Palestinians and their sympathizers that cause them to resort to what we call terrorism.”

In 2016 Israeli athletes dropped out of an international windsurfing competition in Malaysia after the organizers refused to let them compete with the Israeli flag and national anthem.

AFP contributed to this report

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