UPDATED 7:41 AM PT — Monday, January 28, 2019
The 2019 Paralympic Swimming Championships are no longer being hosted in Malaysia due to its ban on Israeli participants. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) stripped the country of its right to hold the qualifying event Sunday, which sets the stage for the 2020 games in Tokyo.
IPC President Andrew Parsons expressed disappointment in a recent statement after Malaysia disregarded an agreement inclusive of Israeli swimmers. Malaysian officials announced the ban earlier in January in a show of solidarity with the Palestinians since it doesn’t have an alliance with Israel.
The Israeli foreign ministry quickly condemned the nation’s apparent prejudice, and called the exclusion of its Paralympians “shameful.”
The decision to move the games came on the same day as the 74th World Holocaust Remembrance Day honoring the millions of Jewish lives lost during World War II.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave remarks during a cabinet meeting attended by survivors of the genocide and touted the Jewish community’s perseverance in the years after.
“During the Holocaust the Jewish people was completely defenseless — today the state of the Jews is one of the strongest and most advanced in the world,” he stated. “Primarily, we have returned the power to stand up for ourselves which we had lost in the Diaspora.”
Netanyahu also addressed the alarming increase in anti-Semitism in Europe, calling out two countries by name.
“I am calling on the international community to act against the anti-Semitism, in particular the rising antisemitism in Europe — anti-Semitism from the right is not a new phenomenon there,” said the Israeli prime minister. “What is new in Europe is the combination of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism from the extreme left dressed in a robe of anti-Zionism, like what is happening lately in Britain and Ireland.”
Meanwhile, the International Paralympic Committee has asked countries interested in hosting the swimming championships to come forward by February 11, 2019
The games are still set to take place as scheduled from July 29 until August 4 and will feature roughly 600 swimmers from 60 nations including Israel.