AFTER MUCH commotion, Israel’s Misha Zilberman will play his first-round match in the badminton world championships today in Jakarta, Indonesia..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli badminton player Misha Zilberman will face Jen Hao Hsu of Taiwan in the first round of the world championships on Tuesday, a day after arriving in Jakarta, Indonesia, under tight security.
The 26-year-old, who represented Israel at the London 2012 Olympics, was escorted from Singapore to the world’s most populous Muslim country by badminton World Federation Secretary General Thomas Lund, who flew to Singapore especially in order to ensure the Israeli would be able to enter Indonesia.
Zilberman, who is only allowed to leave his hotel for training and games, spent recent weeks practicing in Singapore while waiting for his visa request to be approved. Despite filing his initial application six months ago, Zilberman was turned down by Indonesian officials time and again.
Israel and Indonesia do not have formal diplomatic ties and it is difficult for Israelis to visit the country.
Zilberman’s pleas to the Badminton World Federation fell on deaf ears until recent days when pressure from the Olympic Committee of Israel and Israeli International Olympic committee member Alex Gilady, who also rallied fellow IOC members, forced the BWF into action.
However, with the championships already beginning on Monday and Zilberman scheduled to play his first round match on Tuesday, the Israeli, ranked No. 44 in the world, enters his contest with Hsu (24) in a very tough position.
The Olympic Committee of Israel said on Sunday that it will demand to compensate Zilberman with ranking points due to the ordeal he was forced to endure over recent weeks.
Zilberman’s world ranking will ultimately decide if he participates at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
“Our victory and your victory is the fact that you will be playing in Indonesia,” Olympic c ommittee of Israel Secretary General Gili Lustig told Zilberman on Monday. “ Anything you manage to achieve beyond that will be a bonus.