The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) stripped Malaysia’s hosting rights for the World Para-Swimming Championships late last month. The IPC came to this decision after the country banned athletes from Israel.
As a result, Malaysia will lose S$ 1.6 million (US $1.2 million), largely in the hotel sector, as approximately 600 competitors were expected to be billeted in these accommodations outside Sarawak. The swimming championship was supposed to have been held in Kuching from July 29 to August 4 of this year.
Other sectors that will bear losses are the country’s airlines, restaurants, travel agencies, shopping areas, and transportation industries.
The Algemeiner, a Jewish publication based in the United States, reports John Teo, the honorary secretary-general of the Malaysian Association of Hotels Sarawak Chapter, as saying, “The swimmers and coaches stay up to two weeks, although the championships last for one week. The hotel would not be able to fill up the occupancy within [this] short span of time after the cancellation of the championships.”
IPC President Andrew Parsons made a statement explaining the decision. “Politics and sport are never a good mix. We are disappointed that Israeli athletes would not have been allowed to compete in Malaysia. The Paralympic Movement has, and always will be, motivated by a desire to drive inclusion, not exclusion. 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.”
The committee’s decision was praised by Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon, who tweeted “this is a victory of values over hatred and bigotry, a strong statement in favor of freedom and equality. Thank you @Paralympics for your brave decision!!!”
In early January, Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Tun Mahathir Mohamad said that athletes from Israel would not be welcome into the country. Saifuddin Abdullah, Malaysia’s Foreign Minister, said that the country would “not host any more events involving Israel or its representatives.”
This is not the first time that Malaysia has banned Israeli competitors from athletic events. In 2015, the country did not issue visas to two windsurfers who were supposed to compete in Langkawi, forcing them to withdraw from the competition. And in 2017, Malaysia declined to host a FIFA world soccer conference when a delegation from Israel was going to attend.