Polish Swimming Star Rejects Offer To Coach Malaysia’s Swim Team over Israel Ban

A Polish swimming star has rejected an offer to coach Malaysia’s swim team on account of the Asian nation’s refusal to allow Israeli athletes to compete, The Times of Israel reported Tuesday.

“I was offered a very attractive coaching position from the Malaysian Swimming Federation,” Bartosz (Bart) Kizierowski, who represented Poland in the Olympics four times, wrote on his Facebook page. “Among other personal reasons, I declined that function due to recent statements made by Malaysian politicians regarding refusal of visa for athletes that are supposed to compete at the World Championships organized by that country. There is no place for that in sport.”

Earlier this month, Israeli athletes, who intended to participate in this summer’s World Para Swimming Championships, expressed concern that they had not received their visas to Malaysia, where the competition had been scheduled to take place.

A week later, Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah confirmed that his country would not grant visas to Israeli athletes.

“Even if we have already committed to hosting an event, they will not be allowed (into the country),” Abdullah said at a press conference, referring to a cabinet decision.

“Secondly, Malaysia will not host any event that has representation from or participation of Israel.”

At the time, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) issued a statement saying it was “bitterly disappointed” with Malaysia’s policy.

Over the weekend, the IPC took action and decided to move the championships from Malaysia to a different nation.

“All World Championships must be open to all eligible athletes and nations to compete safely and free from discrimination. When a host country excludes athletes from a particular nation, for political reasons, then we have absolutely no alternative but to look for a new Championships host,” IPC President Andrew Parson said in a statement released Sunday. “The Paralympic Movement has, and always will be, motivated by a desire to drive inclusion, not exclusion. Regardless of the countries involved in this matter, the IPC would take the same decision again if it was to face a similar situation involving different countries.”

Parsons noted that Malaysia had violated an assurance it had given the IPC that it would allow athletes from all nations to participate.

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