World Squash Championship cancelled in Malaysia after Israeli players refused visas

After Malaysian authorities refused to issue visas to Israeli players, the World Squash Federation (WSF) has cancelled the World Squash Championship that was scheduled to take place in Kuala Lumpur from December 7-12.

The WSF said in a statement: “The WSF believes in an open and inclusive Men’s World Team Squash Championships and the possibility that some nations would be unable to compete due to the lack of confirmation over the issuing of visas and travel authorisations by the National Authorities has led Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) to inform the WSF of the decision to cancel.”

The Israeli Squash Association had earlier sued the SRAM and the WSF at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland after Kuala Lumpur banned squash players from Israel from participating in the Championship.

“In addition, the WSF and SRAM both have concerns surrounding the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, which has been reported in multiple countries around the world and could have a big impact on the ability of certain teams to travel to Malaysia for the event”, the statement read.

The tournament was moved to Malaysia from New Zealand due to the travel restrictions and lockdown imposed by the country to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Israel and Malaysia currently do not have formal diplomatic relations. In 2019, Malaysia was disallowed to host the World Para Swimming Championships after it threatened to refuse visas to Israeli players.

WSF President Zena Wooldridge said: “We are extremely disappointed to announce that this year’s WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship has been cancelled. Together with SRAM, we have worked very hard to put the event on against the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which had already caused us to move the event from Tauranga in New Zealand.

“I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Council of Malaysia for their unwavering efforts to influence the highest authorities of Malaysia to ensure the ability of all participating teams including Israel to enter Malaysia and compete, without any political discrimination, in accordance with the principles and rules of the Olympic Charter. It is important to WSF that no nation who wishes to compete misses out on the event.

“I’d like to thank SRAM and its President Gerard Monteiro for the hard work they had put into planning the event prior to this decision. Our focus now turns towards 2022 and we will work closely with our Member Nation Federations as we look to put a robust calendar of events in place next year.”

To mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah reiterated the country’s “unwavering support and profound solidarity”.

He said: “The Palestinians have suffered tremendously under the Israeli occupation and blockade and the latter’s racist and discriminatory policies, denial of basic civil rights; imposition of harsh conditions; large scale land and property confiscation, as well as other inhumane acts. The Palestinians deserve justice and peace. The global community owes it to them.

“Malaysia’s continuous support for the Palestinian struggle is also in recognition of the aspirations of the new generation of Palestinian activists towards realizing the Palestinian peoples’ aspiration for freedom and their independent State of Palestine.”

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