The competition was to be held in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur from December 7 to 12.
|World squash championships, scheduled for December 7-12 in Kuala Lumpur, are cancelled. - WILLIAM WEST / AFP -|
The World Team Championship for men's squash in Malaysia has been cancelled, announced the World Squash Federation (WSF). The reason? The predominantly Muslim Southeast Asian host country is refusing to grant visas to Israeli athletes. "The possibility that some nations will be unable to participate due to lack of confirmation of the issuance of visas" is the reason for the cancellation, the Federation explained. "The WSF believes in an open and inclusive men's world team squash championships."
President Zena Wooldridge explained that sports officials had been working to "persuade the Malaysian authorities to ensure that all participating teams, including Israel, could enter Malaysia and participate," adding that it is "important that none of the nations wishing to compete miss a competition.
Geopolitical tensions between the two sides
But Malaysia, composed mostly of Muslims, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, and has already tried several times to prevent the entry of Israeli athletes on its territory. The Israeli squash federation said it would turn to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne if the World Federation did not resolve the issue. It said countries participating in a competition that excludes Israeli athletes would be complicit in "racism and discrimination".
In 2019, Malaysia was stripped of the right to host the World Disabled Swimming Championships after threatening to ban Israeli athletes from competition. In 2015, it was Israeli windsurfers who had to withdraw from a competition on Langkawi Island due to a lack of visas. The Palestinian cause is very strong in Malaysia, where 60% of the population is Muslim, and Israeli passport holders are not allowed to enter the country.
The world squash federation added that the cancellation was also linked to the new variant of the Omicron coronavirus, which could disrupt flights to Malaysia. The competition was moved from New Zealand to Malaysia earlier this year because of travel restrictions related to the pandemic.