(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
A solution which will allow Israel’s top windsurfers to participate in the upcoming world championships in Oman has yet to be found, but Israel Sailing Association chairman Gili Amir guaranteed on Wednesday that the country’s top surfers will ultimately participate in the seven- day event which begins on Saturday, October 17.
The ISA, the Olympic Committee of Israel and Israeli International Olympic Committee member Alex Gilady have placed considerable pressure on the Ministry of Culture and Sport since it notified the ISA on Tuesday that the delegation is not allowed to fly out to the Muslim Sultanate on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.
The ministry explained that the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), which is responsible for the safety of Israeli national teams when competing abroad, has not authorized the trip to Oman due to security concerns.
The windsurfers received visas to enter Oman several months ago, but the Shin Bet said it has failed to reach an agreement with local security forces and therefore won’t permit the windsurfing delegation’s visit to the country.
Nevertheless, Amir remains confident that the windsurfers will eventually compete in Oman.
“I expect Sport Minister Miri Regev to do all she can and help us receive the required permits to travel to the world championships in Oman,” Amir said. “A day has passed since we received the Shin Bet’s decision and there hasn’t been any progress. We will continue to cooperate with all the relevant bodies in order to overcome the difficulties. We are determined to take part in the world championships in Oman and we will do so.”
Amir met with Israel’s top windsurfers, Shahar Zubari, Nimrod Mashiah and Ma’ayan Davidovich, on Wednesday afternoon at the OCI offices in Tel Aviv. Olympic Committee of Israel Secretary General Gili Lustig and OCI directorate member Yael Arad both took part in the meeting in which Amir updated the surfers regarding their travel and security arrangements in Oman.
“The surfers said they are determined to travel to Oman and take part in the world championships. They noted that they can’t see a situation in which the world championships will go ahead without them,” read an Israel Sailing Association press release.
The world championships are one of five competitions which will decide who will represent Israel at the Rio Olympics. Nimrod Mashiah and Shahar Zubari are battling for Israel’s single berth in the men’s competition in Brazil, with the former holding a 4.25-point lead after two events.