The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has stripped Malaysia of the right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships, which were due to be held in Kuching between July 29 and Aug 4.
The decision was made by the IPC governing board at its meeting in London, England on Sunday (Jan 27), after the Home Ministry said it would not allow Israeli para swimmers to enter the country and participate in the event.
In a statement, IPC president Andrew Parsons said that 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, then we have no alternative but to look for a new host.
“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,” he said.
According to Parsons, in September 2017, when the IPC signed the contract with the Paralympic Council of Malaysia (NPC Malaysia) to host the World Para-Swimming Championships, they were assured that all eligible athletes and countries would be allowed to participate in the event with their safety guaranteed.
“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.
“As a result of the Board’s decision today, we are now looking for a new host for this vital World Championships, which acts as a qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.”
Around 600 swimmers from 60 nations were expected to take part in Kuching with more than 160 world titles up for grabs.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia would not allow Israeli Paralympic swimmers to enter the country for the championships.