KUALA LUMPUR: The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has stripped Malaysia of the hosting rights of the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships scheduled for July 29 to Aug 4 in Kuching.
According to IPC, the decision was taken during its Governing Board meeting in London after the Malaysian Home Ministry failed to provide the necessary guarantees that Israeli Para swimmers could participate, free from discrimination, and safely in the championships.
It includes full compliance with the IPC protocols related to anthems and flags, and where required the provision of relevant visas, according to the statement issued in its official website, www.paralympic.org.
“The Paralympic Movement has and always will be, motivated by a desire to drive inclusion, not exclusion. Regardless of the countries involved in this matter, the IPC would take the same decision again if it was to face a similar situation involving different countries,” the statement said.
IPC also encouraged all potential hosts for the tournament to express an interest in staging the event by Feb 11.
IPC president, Andrew Parsons said the Paralympic Movement has, and always will be, motivated by a desire to drive inclusion, not exclusion, where all World Championships must be open to all eligible athletes and nations to compete safely and free from discrimination.
“When a host country excludes athletes from a particular nation, for political reasons, then we have absolutely no alternative but to look for a new Championships host. Regardless of the countries involved in this matter, the IPC would take the same decision again if it was to face a similar situation involving different countries.
“In September 2017 when the IPC signed the contract with the Paralympic Council of Malaysia (NPC Malaysia) to host the event, we had assurances that all eligible athletes and countries would be allowed to participate in the event with their safety assured.
“Since then, there has been a change of political leadership and the new Malaysian government has different ideas. Politics and sport are never a good mix and we are disappointed that Israeli athletes would not have been allowed to compete in Malaysia,” he said.
He noted that as the championship serves as the qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, IPC will look for the new host, but strive to maintain the dates and conditions of the tournament to avoid upsetting the athletes who have planned to peak at the end of July.
About 600 swimmers from 60 nations are expected to participate in the event which offers more than 160 world titles.
Primer Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had earlier said the government was taking a firm stand in not allowing Israeli athletes to compete in the tournament.
However, the Israeli Olympic Committee protested against the decision and continued to pressure the organisers to issue visas to its athletes. — Bernama