Ban on Israeli athletes could cost us, says Olympic Council of Malaysia

The Olympic Council of Malaysia says another country may be chosen to host the World Para Swimming Championships. (AFP pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Olympic Council of Malaysia (MOM) today warned that barring Israeli athletes from the country may result in Malaysia losing the chance to host the World Para Swimming Championships and strain ties with international sporting bodies.

MOM secretary-general Nazifuddin Mohd Najib told FMT another country would likely be chosen to host the swimming tournament, while Malaysia’s relations with the International Paralympic Committee, International Olympic Committee (IOC), and International Swimming Federation (Fina) among others would be affected.

He said the IOC had also voiced concern over Malaysia’s decision to stop hosting events involving Israel.

He said the committee had stressed that Putrajaya’s stand against Israel went against the spirit of the Olympics, where sports should not be mixed with politics.

“They are hoping that Malaysia can find a solution to hosting the event organised by the International Paralympic Committee,” he added.

The event, which involves swimmers from 70 countries, is supposed to be held in Sarawak in July.

Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah recently said that Malaysia had imposed a blanket ban on all Israelis participating in events hosted in the country.

He said the Cabinet had decided last week that Israelis will not be allowed to enter the country for any event.

Malaysia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, and Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been a long-time critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestine.

Malaysia has long supported a two-state solution in the Palestine-Israel conflict.