Malaysia reaffirms ban on Israeli swimmers for Paralympic qualifier

Days after vowing to bar Israelis, Malaysia reaffirms ban on athletes for event.

A mosque is silhouetted against city buildings in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, January 27, 2016. (photo credit: OLIVIA HARRIS/ REUTERS)
A mosque is silhouetted against city buildings in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, January 27, 2016.
(photo credit: OLIVIA HARRIS/ REUTERS)
Malaysia has imposed a blanket ban on all Israelis participating in events hosted by the Southeast Asian nation, as the government maintains its decision to ban Israeli athletes from taking part in the World Para Swimming Championships in July.
Malaysia's cabinet decided last week that Israelis will not be allowed to enter the country for any event, Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said on Wednesday.
"Even if we have already committed to hosting an event, they will not be allowed (into the country)," he said in a recording of a press conference heard by Reuters.
"Secondly, Malaysia will not host any event that has representation from or participation of Israel."
On Monday,  International Paralympic Committee said it was “disappointed” that Malaysia will not allow Israelis  to enter the country to participate in the World Championship event.
Swimmers from some 70 countries are expected to compete at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in the eastern state of Sarawak from July 29-Aug. 4.
Malaysia, a majority-Muslim country, in Southeast Asia, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Entry to Malaysia on an Israeli passport is prohibited.
Thousands in Malaysia and neighboring Indonesia took to the streets last December to protest Washington's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Last month, Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad criticized Australia's decision to follow the U.S. in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, saying countries had "no rights" to do so.
The IPC said it would work to “find a solution” for the Israeli swimmers.
In July, the International Judo Federation, canceled two international tournaments, the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and the Tunis Grand Prix, “until governmental guarantee is given to ensure free and equal participation of all nations at the said events.” Two months later, the United Arab Emirates agreed to the conditions.
The decision came after the previous year five Israeli judokas won medals in Abu Dhabai but tournament organizers refused to play Israel’s national anthem. The Israeli competitors also were required to wear the uniform of the International Judo Federation and received their medals under an IJF flag.
However in October, Israel’s national anthem “Hatikvah” was played for the first time in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday after judoka Sagi Muki defeated Matthias Casse of Belgium in the Judo Grand Competition in Abu Dhabi to win the gold medal.
JTA contributed to this report.