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)
The decision by Indonesian authorities to refuse a visa request to an Israeli badminton player competing in the World Championships there has sparked outrage among Jewish organizations.
In a statement released by the Geneva-based World Jewish Congress, the Indonesian government is accused of "unfairly mixing politics and sports" by denying a visa to Misha Zilberman, the badminton player who hopes to compete in the World Badminton Championships in Jakarta next week.
“This decision to bar an Israeli player from an international sporting competition can’t stand, and I urge Indonesia to allow Misha Zilberman to compete in these championships,” WJC CEO Robert Singer said.
“Let’s be clear about this: Here we have yet another blatant attempt to mix politics and sports, and to exclude Israeli athletes from international competitions. If this decision is upheld, it will do harm to Indonesia’s standing in the world, and it will raise the question whether this is the right place to hold such prestigious events.”
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
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, with all his pleas to the Badminton World Federation falling on deaf ears.
The Olympic Committee of Israel is still working to find a solution, but with the event to begin on Monday, it is running out of time.
"They are not giving me a visa to participate in the World Championships," Zilberman wrote on his Facebook page earlier this week.
"After six months of exchanging letters, and after sending all the documents they requested, and after we arrived in Singapore, they are saying no. The World Badminton Federation knew about this and didn't help. They preferred to ignore it and just waited for it to pass. After two weeks in Singapore waiting for a visa they are probably sending me home instead of to the World Championships."Allon Sinai contributed to this report.