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World Sailing Youth Worlds - Malaysia washes hands of Israeli travesty

by Richard Gladwell, on 26 Dec 2015
RS:X Competitors - 2014 ISAF Youth Worlds, Portugal Neuza Aires Pereira | ISAF Youth Worlds
The effective banning of the current world champions from the World Sailing (formerly ISAF) Youth Sailing Championships has been dismissed by the Malaysian authorities.

The reason given by the Government is that Visas have not been issued because Malaysia does not have any diplomatic ties with Israel.

A report in the Malay Daily Online on Christmas Day quotes Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin saying that Malaysia accepts the withdrawal of two Israeli athletes from the Youth Sailing World Championships in Langkawi, two days before the event gets under way.

He indicated that there wasn’t much that could be done to help the Israelis who held Malaysia accountable for their absence at the world windsurfing tournament, as Putrajaya has to abide by its diplomatic policy.

“We accept the decision by the Israeli Youth Team to withdraw from participating in ISAF YWC 2015. As this is a diplomatic issue, we are guided by the existing policy of the Malaysian Government,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted for response.

The tactic of withholding visas, and hiding behind governmental policies and protocols was a favorite ploy of South African authorities to control the entry of non-white sports people to South Africa for international competition during the Apartheid era. The practice led to South Africa being banned from holding international sports events, other than on a sham basis, eventually the regime was kicked out of most of the world's major sporting bodies.

Earlier the chairman of the Israel Sailing Association Amir Gill said Yoav Omer and Noy Drihan would not be taking part in the international surfing competition here Sunday as both athletes have yet to receive their visas 24 hours before their scheduled departure, The Jerusalem Post reported on December 23,2015

The World Sailing (formerly ISAF) Youth Championships organisers were also accused forbidding Israeli sailors from carrying their country’s flag or wearing any symbol on their attire and boards to show their country of origin. Further it was reported that Israel’s national anthem will also not be played if either athletes win the gold medal, as is customary in sporting competitions.

Yoav Omer previously won the Gold Medal for the Boys in the RS:X and Heller Hadar placed 7th in the Girls 2014 ISAF Youth Worlds sailed in Portugal.

Israel won the Gold Medal in the 2004 Olympics and Bronze medal in the 1996 and 2008 Olympics in the Mens Windsurfer. Held annually the ISAF/World Sailing Youth Championships is seen as the next level below the Olympic regatta, and many of the winners at Youth Worlds level go on to Olympic success.

Like the Olympics, each country affiliated to ISAF/World sailing is entitled to send a competitor to the World Sailing Youth Championships, but unlike the Olympics there is no qualification process as a prerequisite for the Championship, and the intention is for the Youth of World Sailing to compete on an equal basis, in supplied equipment.

There has been no comment from World Sailing on the effective banning of the Israeli competitors from its youth world championship.

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