Photo: MEMO
Photo: MEMO

Kuala Lumpur, 30 Rabiul Awal 1437/10 January 2016 (MINA) – Malaysia faces a possible ban from hosting international table tennis events after it failed to grant visas to Israeli athletes, a month after barring windsurfers from the country, according to the Olympic Council of Malaysia.

The council said in a statement Friday that the government has yet to decide on whether to grant visas to Israel participants in the World Team Table Tennis Championships in capital Kuala Lumpur next month.

It called on the government to adhere to the “sporting spirit” and resolve issues about the granting of visas to avoid a possible ban on Malaysia hosting international sport events – as suggested by a recent report quoting the International Table Tennis Federation. Middle East Monitor (MEMO) quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

In the short statement, the Council’s secretary-general said that the participation of Israeli teams in sporting events in Malaysia was not “something new” and should be addressed immediately.

“At least the Youth and Sports Ministry should call up the Israel delegation and the actual representatives for a meeting here,” Low Beng Choo said. “A solution can only be derived if all parties sit down for such a predicament.”

Malaysia and Israel have no formal diplomatic relations, due to Israel’s ongoing actions against the Palestinian people.

It has frequently highlighted what it calls the “intrusion” of Israel into the Palestinian heartland and the “brutal actions” it has taken to conquer Palestine, whose people Malaysia says have lived in fear and danger for many decades.

An Israeli team missed last month’s Youth Sailing World Championships in the island state of Langkawi, after Malaysia’s government placed restrictions on them prior to issuing entry visas.

Under the conditions, the two athletes were not allowed to use their national flag or symbols on windsurfing outfits and the Israeli national anthem would not be played if either were to win the gold medal.

The Israeli team declined to adhere to the regulations and decided to opt-out of the competition.

Malaysia defended its denial of visas to the windsurfers by saying the move was guided by the government’s policies. (T/P002/R07)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)