Time to clamp down on Israel visa deniers

  • 1-Milner Jack
One wonders if international sporting bodies are ever going to put their foot down over countries not allowing Israel to participate in world team competitions.
by JACK MILNER | Jan 20, 2016

If Israel is a member of the international sporting body controlling a particular sport, the country deserves the same rights as every other member and if a host country does have issues with Israel’s participation, that country should not be allowed to stage the event.

The latest case has been the World Team Table Tennis Championships in Kuala Lumpur from February 28 to March 6. The Israeli squad have reportedly been working with their Malaysian counterpart to get visas to allow them into Kuala Lumpur in time for the championships, but it was clear there was not going to be a resolution.

International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) chief executive Judit Farago, insisted that Israel must be allowed to compete or Malaysia could be banned from hosting future tournaments. Farago had also threatened that the World Championships would be scrapped and Malaysia would have to pay the cancellation costs if the visas were not issued.

However, Israel announced on Tuesday it had decided to withdraw from the championships, which has let the Malaysians off the hook because that means no further action will be taken against them.

The Israeli Table Tennis Association (ITTA) announced its decision on its website, claiming the board had decided not to send a delegation due to security concerns. “With great regret, it was decided that the team will not go to the World Championships. ITTA has received a letter from the Department of Defence to the Ministry of Sport saying that it is unable to send a delegation to Malaysia with security personnel, following the prohibition (imposed by) the Malaysian government.

“The Association is not willing to risk their athletes’ security.”

Table Tennis Association of Malaysia (TTAM) secretary, Chan Foong Keong said it was “common” for teams to pull out of international sporting events at the last minute.

Israel is among three teams who have decided not to participate in the championships, the other two being Peru and Azerbaijan.

However, this is the second clash with the Malaysian government, just a month after the Israel Sailing Association withdrew participants Yoav Omer and Noy Drihan and coach Meir Yaniv, just 24 hours before the event, after they were denied visas to compete at the Youth Sailing World Championships in Malaysia.

Malaysia does not have diplomatic ties with Israel and prohibited the delegates from competing under the Israeli flag, to use any symbol identifiable with Israel on their clothes or surfboards, and would not play the Israeli national anthem should an Israeli win a gold medal.

With that attitude and restrictions, Malaysia should no longer be allowed to host any international sporting event.  

On the question of sport and Israel: Many people will be keeping an eye on the Australian Open Tennis Championship in Melbourne for which men’s world No 1 Novak Djokovic is a hot favourite.

Djokovic is openly pro-Israel. He has a lot of money invested in Israeli companies and along with Billie Jean King invested $3,5 million in a company called PlaySight which has created an affordable tennis analytics system called the SmartCourt, which is suitable for both amateur and professional players.

The investment was to be used to fund a global roll-out of PlaySight’s SmartCourt technology.
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 Maccabi SA gearing up for football gold in 2017

Maccabi South Africa (MSA) is in the process of regeneration and at the end of last year many hours were spent planning the way ahead.

After some time spent strategising, MSA feels that the time has come to launch South Africa’s bid for football glory at the 2017 Maccabi Games.

Maccabi SA’s football management is planning on sending competitive, passionate and well-drilled under-16, under-18, Open and Masters teams to the 20th Maccabiah. There is also the possibility of including a women’s under-18 side - if the standard of play is competitive.

Following on from MSA’s successful futsal results at the 2015 European Maccabi Games where the Open and Masters teams each won bronze, it is believed South African Jewish footballers are once again ready to make an impact. Team Maccabi SA last won a football medal at the 1985 Games.

The first round of national trials for all age groups is to take place on Sunday, January 31 at Balfour Park Football Club in Johannesburg. Register online at www.maccabi.co.za.

* For further information, contact MSA sports director Alain Nathan at [email protected] or call him on 072-316-2093.

 

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