Malaysia Bans Israeli Athletes From Playing National Anthem, Wearing Flag in International Competition

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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.

The ban led to the Israel Sailing Association’s announcement on Wednesday that windsurfers Yoav Omer and Noy Drihan, as well as coach Meir Yaniv, would not be participating in the ISAF Youth World Sailing Championship in Langkawi, Malaysia.

The association’s union sent the message to the International Sailing Federation, the International Olympic Committee, the organizers of the competition in Malaysia, and the Olympic Committee of Israel.

Israel Sailing Association chairman Amir Gill said: “Because to this day they have not received visas, 24 hours before their planned departure, and the limitations and difficulties imposed on us by the Malaysian organizing committee, we decided not to participate in the competition.”

“The organizers of the competition in Malaysia stipulated that in order to participate in the competition the Israeli athletes would have to compete without an Israeli flag and without any symbols associated with the State of Israel on their clothing and surfboards, as well as not playing the Israeli national anthem if any medals were won,” Gill added.

“We condemn the unsportsmanlike conduct of the organizing committee of the competition,” Gill said. “We will not accept being humiliated and we are looking into making a claim against the International Sailing Federation and the host country, in coordination with the Olympic Committee of Israel.”

World Sailing president Carlo Croce said  in a statement that a member of its executive was en route to Malaysia “to investigate this issue and is seeking clarification from the Malaysian Organizing Authority.”

“World Sailing expects the organizing authority of its events to allow sailors from all nations to compete on an equal basis,” Croce added in the statement. “This expectation is made clear in the bid process and is set out in the contractual documentation governing our events.”

“As with all diplomatic issues this is quite a delicate matter. World Sailing is aware of the current commentary in the public arena, and has reason to believe that some of the comments may not be accurate or possibly based on misunderstandings.”

Gill noted  that Israel’s sailing association and the Olympic Committee of Israel is considering a lawsuit against Malaysia and the competition’s organizers.


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