Malaysia stripped of Paralympic event over ban on Israelis

Malaysia has been stripped of the hosting rights for the World Para Swimming Championships after refusing to let Israelis compete in the event that serves as a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

The Malaysian government said earlier this month that no Israeli delegates can enter Malaysia for sporting or other events in solidarity with the Palestinians. Malaysia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

The swimming championships were due to be staged July 29-Aug. 4 in Kuching.

The International Paralympic Committee on Sunday said its governing board meeting in London decided to take the event from Malaysia after it "failed to provide the necessary guarantees that Israeli Para swimmers could participate, free from discrimination, and safely in the championships. This includes full compliance with the IPC protocols related to anthems and flags, and where required the provision of relevant visas."

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon responded to the decision on Twitter: “This is a victory of values over hatred and bigotry, a strong statement in favour of freedom and equality. Thank you @Paralympics for your brave decision !!!”

Israel's Paralympics governing body also welcomed the decision.

"The Israeli Paralympic Committee thanks the International Paralympic Committee for its brave decision, which reflects the Paralympic spirit of equality among nations regardless of race, gender and religion," it said in a statement.

With the IPC looking for a new host, the deadline for expressions of interest is Feb. 11.

The Canadian Paralympic Committee issued a statement, applauding the IPC for taking appropriate action and relocating the event.

"Inclusion is one of our key values, and we believe all athletes who qualify should be allowed to compete at a sporting event," the CPC stated. "Political reasons should not play a part in whether an athlete can participate and any form of discrimination should not be tolerated.

"All athletes deserve to compete in a safe and inclusive environment."

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