Visas not granted to Israeli squash players as no diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv, says Ahmad Faizal

NILAI: Visas were not granted to squash players from Israel to take part in the Men's Squash World Team Championships scheduled to be held here in Kuala Lumpur next month as there are no diplomatic ties between Malaysia and Israel, says Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu (pic).

The Youth and Sports Minister said international sports bodies should also take note of this before agreeing to allow Malaysia to host such events.

"Under such circumstances, how are we to allow athletes from Israel to take part in sports activities in our country?" he asked when met after opening the National Sports Council complex here.

Ahmad Faizal said he was previously detained by Israeli authorities when he joined the Freedom Flotilla mission in 2010 to raise awareness about the plight of Palestinians.

"So I think I would be the first person to oppose any move to allow athletes from Israel to set foot in Malaysia," he said.

The World Squash Federation (WSF) and Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) cancelled the event, scheduled to take place in Kuala Lumpur from Dec 7 to 12, after Malaysia did not grant visas to Israeli players.

The WSF also said the decision to cancel the event was also influenced by the new Covid-19 Omicron variant, which it feared could affect travel to Malaysia.

Ahmad Faizal said it would be most unfortunate if Malaysia was accused of discrimination against Israeli athletes.

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