Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad. (AP/Yam G-Jun) AP/Yam G-Jun
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad

Malaysia bars Israeli Paralympic swimmers from entering the country for an upcoming world championship. Despite the government’s hateful policy, United with Israel has over 38,000 followers in the country.

By David Jablinowitz, United With Israel

International sporting events are supposed to bring different people together and stay outside the realm of hostile international politics.

However, we know that it doesn’t always happen, and Malaysia is making that point in its hosting of the World Paralympic Swimming Championships 2019, scheduled to take place this summer. The country’s premier has announced that Israelis are not welcome to attend.

There is “no place for Israeli athletes in Malaysia,” said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, adding that visas would not be granted to the Israeli athletes, according to the Shehab News Agency.

Israeli athletes have been banned before from sporting events hosted by various countries with which the Jewish state does not have diplomatic relations. On other occasions, such countries have bowed to pressure to permit Israeli participation when threatened with punitive measures by an international or regional sports organization.

At other events in which the venue is not the problem and Israelis have participated, visiting athletes from hostile countries have periodically been unwilling to face Israelis due to their own disdain for their opponent or pressure from the authorities and people back in their own country. Sometimes, they even fear that they could be harmed when they return home for their “crime” of recognizing the existence of the State of Israel.

Malaysia’s prime minister stresses that he is not daunted by the prospect of facing punishment for his refusal to allow Israelis to participate in the swimming championships. He said that if the organizers were to threaten to cancel his country’s hosting of the event, “they can do so.”

Malaysian Deputy Sports Minister Sim Hee Kyung said that his country would not allow the Israeli athletes to enter the country because of the “clear” Malaysian policy regarding dealings with Israel. Said the minister: “The government will maintain its steadfast position regarding this issue as a means to protest against the continuous Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people.”

It remains to be seen whether the World Paralympic Swimming Championships will be moved out of Malaysia or if the international sports officials will succumb to hatred of Israel and allow the event to go ahead despite this anti-Israel edict.

Despite the Malaysian government’s hateful policy, the population includes a pro-Israel community. United with Israel has over 38,000 followers in Malaysia.

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