Malaysia was stripped of the right to host the 2019 World Paralympic Swimming Championships by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) after the country banned Israeli athletes from taking part in the event.
Muslim-majority Malaysia barred Israeli swimmers from participating in July event, which is a qualifying event for next the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, in ‘solidarity with Palestine.’
The country has now been stripped of their hosting rights for the event, scheduled for Kuching between July 29 and August 4, with the IPC announcing a new venue would be sought for the same dates.
“All World Championships must be open to all eligible athletes and nations to compete safely and free from discrimination,” said IPC president Andrew Parsons in a statement after a meeting of the IPC governing board in London, Reuters reported.
“When a host country excludes athletes from a particular nation, for political reasons, then we have absolutely no alternative but to look for a new Championships host.”
Israel had condemned the ban as “shameful”, and said the decision was fueled by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s “rabid anti-Semitism”.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said on Wednesday that no Israeli competitor would be allowed to participate as the country considers the Palestinians “oppressed” by Israel.
“The cabinet has also decided that Malaysia will not host any more events involving Israel or its representatives. This is to me, a decision to reflect the government’s firm stance over the Israeli issue,” Abdullah said.
Following the Paralympic’s decision, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon commended the IPC, calling the move “a victory of values over hatred”.
Nations wanting to host the event are asked to express their interest by February 11. Parsons in a statement that the decision was motivated by the organization’s principles of “inclusion”.
“The Paralympic Movement has, and always will be, motivated by a desire to drive inclusion, not exclusion,” he said.
“Regardless of the countries involved in this matter, the IPC would take the same decision again if it was to face a similar situation involving different countries.”