Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sport Khaled Abdel Aziz .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sport Khaled Abdel Aziz has rejected calls to ban the participation of Israel in the World Basketball Championship for youth, scheduled to take place in Cairo in 2017.
Speaking at a press conference at Cairo's Olympic Center on Tuesday, Abdel Aziz stated that since the event takes place in Egypt, the country is committed to host all national teams that qualify, including Israel.
Abdel Aziz's remarks contravene the popular calls to block Israel's participation in the competition for youth under the age of 19. Those opposed, view Israel's taking part as a normalization of Egypt's relations with the Jewish State.
"Egypt has been chosen to host the world championship after it faced difficult competition from Italy and Israel. If Israel would have been chosen to host the event and the Egyptian national basketball team would have qualified then we would have never participated. But we cannot prevent any state from participating, Abdel Aziz explained.
The current Egyptian outcry against Israel's participation in the basketball tournament was preceded by another contentious report about an Egyptian Muay Thai fighter who competed against an Israeli rival and beat him during an international tournament in that took place in Thiland this Sunday.
With these remarks, Abdel Aziz may be tagged as an "Israeli agent," a label that the Egyptian MP Tawfik Okasha recently earned after meeting with Israeli ambassador to Cairo. Okasha was expelled from the Egyptian parliament in the wake of the scandal.