World squash event in Malaysia axed after Israelis barred

Nov 30, 2021: A major squash tournament in Malaysia has been canceled, the sport’s governing body said after the Southeast Asian country refused to grant visas to the Israeli team.

This is the latest example of Muslim-majority Malaysia, which has no diplomatic relations with Israel, barring the country’s players.

The Men’s World Team Championship was to be held in Kuala Lumpur from December 7, with 26 squads taking part. But the World Squash Federation (WSF) and the Malaysian squash body said the tournament was called off because “there is a possibility that some countries will be unable to compete due to non-verification of visa issuance”.

WSF President Zina Woldridge said the sports authorities had “tried to influence the Malaysian authorities to ensure the ability of all participating teams, including Israel, to enter and compete in Malaysia.”

“It’s important for the WSF that any nation that wants to compete doesn’t miss out on the event.”

The Israeli Squash Association has previously said that the countries that participated in the tournament, which barred Israel, would be turning a blind eye to “racism and discrimination.”

The decision came after the ISA took its case to the Sports Arbitration Court in Switzerland. The WSF said the decision to cancel the event was also affected by the new Omicron corona virus, which could affect travel to Malaysia. The tournament was relocated from New Zealand to Malaysia earlier this year due to travel restrictions related to the corona virus, although Malaysia has not yet opened its borders to foreign visitors.

Egypt won the last tournament, held in Washington DC in 2019.

Malaysia, where about 60 percent of the population is Malay Muslim, does not allow its citizens to travel to Israel, nor does it allow Israelis to travel to Malaysia.

In a statement issued on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah reiterated the country’s “unwavering support and deep solidarity” with the Palestinian people and urged an end to the “repeated violence and aggression perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians” and the “systematic oppression and crimes of apartheid”.

In 2019, Malaysia threatened to deny visas to Israeli athletes for the World Para Swimming Championships and stripped them of the right to host the event. And in 2015, Israeli windsurfers withdrew from the competition on Langkawi Island after being denied visas.

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