KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 — Olympic Council of Malaysia secretary-general Datuk Nazifuddin Najib today said that the International Olympic Council (IOC) will send an official appeal letter to the Malaysian government to allow Israeli athletes to compete at the World Para Swimming Championships slated for Sarawak in July this year.
“IOC are in the midst of sending their appeal to the government. We shall inform the public of this in due time,” he said when contacted by Malay Mail.
The government had refused to allow Israeli athletes to compete at the event because of Malaysia’s pro-Palestine stance.
“We at OCM have a firm stance that politics shouldn’t mix with sports.
“For competition purposes they should be allowed to compete hence the event in Sarawak should continue.
“Maybe to appease the people we can let them compete but we don’t raise the flag or play their national anthem. But we still protest this,” Nazifuddin said.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said that there is “no place for Israeli athletes in Malaysia,” refusing to issue entry visas for the Israeli swimming team.
OCM are also taking their own steps by writing a formal letter to the government imploring them to reconsider their stance.
Meanwhile, OCM president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria said he and his committee will inform all National Sports Associations (NSAs) to check with OCM before deciding to bid for future international events.
“The government has made its stance known so there’s not much we can do. However, we will write to all our NSAs if they want to organise future international please discuss with us,” Norza said when contacted.
In 2011, Chelsea Football Club’s Israeli midfielder, Yossi Benayoun, played a friendly with Malaysia but he was booed incessantly whenever he got the ball.
Then, in 2015, two Israeli sailors had to withdraw from the World Junior Sailing Championships in Langkawi as their visas weren’t granted.