Israel's Misha Zilberman plays against Denmark's Jan O Jorgensen during their men's singles group play stage badminton match at the Wembley Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Misha Zilberman is set to arrive in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Monday escorted by Badminton World Federation Secretary General Thomas Lund, but the Israeli player is still unsure if he will be ready to play his first-round match at the world championships the following day.
The 26-year-old, who represented Israel at the London 2012 Olympics, spent the past couple of weeks practicing in Singapore while waiting for his visa request to be approved. However, 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 world’s most populous Muslim country.
Zilberman’s pleas to the Badminton World Federation also 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, sending Lund to Singapore in order to ensure Zilberman would be able to travel to Indonesia on Monday.
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, is unsure if he will be able to be at his best for the match against Jen Hao Hsu (24) of Taiwan.
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 in recent weeks.
Zilberman can close in on a berth at the Rio 2016 Olympics with a couple of wins in Jakarta, but would have faced a tough test against Hsu even in the best of times, not to mention in his current situation.