World squash event in Malaysia axed after Israelis barred

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Major events planned for Malaysia were previously canceled over the denial of visas to Israeli competitors.

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A major squash tournament in Malaysia has been cancelled, the sport’s governing body said after the Southeast Asian country refused a visa to an Israeli team.

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

The World Team Championships for men was due to take place in Kuala Lumpur from 7 December, with 26 squads taking part.

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But the World Squash Federation (WSF) and Malaysia’s squash body said the tournament was pulled out due to “the possibility of some countries being unable to compete due to a lack of confirmation of visa issuance”.

WSF President Jenna Wooldridge said sports officials had sought to influence Malaysia’s highest authorities to ensure the ability of all participating teams, including Israel, to enter and compete in Malaysia.

“It is important to the WSF that any country that wants to compete does not miss out on this event.”

Israel’s Squash Association previously said that countries that participated in a tournament from which Israel was banned would close their eyes 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 influenced by the new Omicron coronavirus variant, which it fears could affect travel to Malaysia.

The tournament was moved from New Zealand to Malaysia earlier this year because of travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, although Malaysia has still not opened its borders to foreign visitors. Egypt won the last tournament, which was held in Washington DC in 2019.

Malaysia, with about 60 percent of the population being ethnic Malay Muslims, does not allow its citizens to travel to Israel or Israelis to travel to Malaysia.

In a statement to mark 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 the “repeated violence and persecution committed by Israel against the Palestinians”. Urged an end to the invasion.” and “the crimes of systematic persecution and 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 dropped out of a competition on the island of Langkawi after being denied a visa.

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