KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad said that his country will not allow athletes from Israel to compete in a tournament in Malaysia later this year. The competition would serve as a qualifying tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Mohamad said in a press conference in Vienna on Tuesday that every country “has the right to accept or refuse entry of anybody.”
Mohamad noted that in the US, “they are erecting a very high wall to prevent Mexicans from going to America.” He said that his country has the same idea. “People who are undesirable for our country will be kept out of our country.”
He also labeled Israel a “criminal country.”
“If their people want to compete in sport, they can go to some other country.”
He also condemned Israel’s move to prevent aid ships from entering Gaza.
“There are many other things done by Israel that are against international laws and against morality,” Mohamad added.
It is not the first time Malaysia has said it will deny entrance to Israeli athletes. Channel News Asia reported that Malaysia refused to grant visas to two Israeli windsurfers in 2015.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon responded, “This is shameful and totally opposes the Olympic spirit.”The statement continued, “Israel condemns the decision, inspired no doubt by Malaysia PM Mahathir’s rabid anti-Semitism.”
Dozens of swimmers will take part in the competition from July 29 to August 4 in Sarawak, Malaysia.