Malaysia Under Fire for Excluding Israeli Windsurfers from Championship

The international body governing the sport of sailing will be investigating Malaysia for its failure to issue Israeli athletes visas to compete in the Youth Sailing World Championships in Langkawi, Malaysia, The Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday.

The Israel Sailing Association (ISA) informed World Sailing that Malaysia would not allow Yoav Omer or Noy Drihan — the 2015 RS:X Youth World Champions — to compete under the Israeli flag or wear symbols identifying their country on their uniforms or surfboards, and would not play the Israeli national anthem if either athlete won another medal. Malaysia’s demands, combined with its refusal to grant a visa to either windsurfer in advance of their scheduled travel date, led the Israeli delegation to withdraw from the championship last week.

A statement issued by World Sailing on Sunday emphasized that the organization would not tolerate discrimination against the Israeli delegation.

World Sailing is committed to ensuring participation in our sport by competitors from all nations, and is taking this issue seriously.

A member of the World Sailing Executive is on route to Malaysia to investigate this issue and is seeking clarification from the Malaysian Organising Authority.

World Sailing expects the organising authority of its events to allow sailors from all nations to compete on an equal basis. This expectation is made clear in the bid process and is set out in the contractual documentation governing our events.

Last week, ISA chairman Gili Amir threatened to sue Malaysia and World Sailing for discriminating against Israeli athletes. “The Malaysians’ demands are unacceptable, and as we haven’t received the visas, we decided not to participate,” he said on Wednesday. “We condemn the unsporting conduct of the organizing committee. We will not agree to be humiliated.”

[Photo: Boaz Oppenheim / Flash90]