MIRI: The decision by Putrajaya to ban Israeli para swimmers from taking part in the 2019 World Para-Swimming Championship in Sarawak was more of a political decision, says Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP).
Sports should be above politics, and the decision by the federal government has a negative impact on the image of Malaysia and Sarawak as the host-state, said its secretary-general Datuk Sebastian Ting (pic).
The decision by Putrajaya subsequently led to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Sunday (Jan 27) to withdraw the event from Malaysia.
Ting, in a press statement, said Sarawak's image had taken a knock, as it was the state that was slated to host the world meet.
"It is a sad episode for Sarawak, as the world meet would have seen at least 600 athletes from more than 60 countries coming.
"The 2019 World Para Swimming Championship is a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
"The 2019 world meet would have given Sarawak tremendous boost in terms of world sports publicity and also tourism revenue.
"The IPC in 2017 gave Malaysia the right to host the event, and Sarawak won the right to be the host-state on condition that all eligible athletes from all countries can take part.
"Now that there has been a change in the federal government, the new political leadership has different ideas.
"Putrajaya decided to bar Isreali swimmers because Malaysia has no diplomatic ties with Israel. That is a political decision. Sports is not political in nature, so sports should be above politics," he said.
Ting said Sarawak finds itself in a difficult situation having to explain to the sad development since the IPC have booted out Malaysia as the host.The world championship was supposed to be held in Kuching from July 29 to Aug 4.