IPC drops Malaysia as host of world para swimming championships
LONDON: The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) yesterday stripped Malaysia of the right to host the 2019 world para swimming championships after the country banned Israeli athletes from participating.
The championships, a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, had been scheduled for Kuching between July 29 and Aug 4. The IPC said 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 after a meeting of the IPC governing board in London. "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."
Malaysia, which does not maintain diplomatic relations with Israel, announced this month that it would bar Israelis from any event held in the Southeast Asia nation.
Israel had condemned the ban as "shameful" and said the decision was inspired by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's "rabid anti-Semitism".
Dr Mahathir, 93, has for decades been accused of anti-Semitism for his attacks against Jews. In a BBC interview last October, he described Jews as "hook-nosed" and blamed them for the troubles in the Middle East.
Some 600 swimmers from 60 countries had been expected to compete in the championships in the eastern state of Sarawak, with more than 160 titles to be won.
"The Paralympic Movement has, and always will be, motivated by a desire to drive inclusion, not exclusion," said Mr Parsons. - REUTERS