Squash Championship Cancelled as Malaysia Bans Israeli Team

On Monday, the Men’s World Team Squash Championship that was to be held in Malaysia got canceled, after the country announced that the team from Israel would not be permitted to play. The World Squash Federation (WSF) published a statement where it stated that the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) had made the decision because the competition is supposed to be inclusive and open. However, there are some nations that would not be able to compete because of the absence of confirmation regarding the issuance of visas from the National Authorities, along with travel authorizations. 

Furthermore, the SRAM and WSF also expressed their concern about the newly-discovered Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Scheduled for December 7th, the championship had previously been slated to be held in New Zealand, but they had moved it to Malaysia because of the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic. The Israel Squash Association expressed their gratitude towards the WSF leadership for making this decision. Aviv Bushinsky, the ISA chairman said that being sports lover, especially where squash is concerned, they were aware of the difficulty of canceling a tournament. He said that when everyone had realized that Malaysians were banning Israelis from playing, they were grateful to receive a letter from the President that affirmed their participation.

Bushinsky added that Israel was willing to hold WSF events and would even welcome teams from countries with which they do not have diplomatic relations. He said for a professional athlete, there couldn’t be anything more frustrating to be told after years of preparation and training that they cannot play. However, he added that this incident would prevent any similar discrimination in the future. The cancelation of the championship came a few days after the ISA had sued the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia and the World Squash Federation at the Court of Arbitration for Sports. 

This was because a ban had been imposed on Israelis for competing in the championship to be held next month in Kuala Lumpur. Bushinsky said on Monday that their decision of appealing to the CAS had been a last resort. He added that it hadn’t been taken because of any individual or personal considerations because they just wanted to ensure that no squash player would be excluded from the tournament because of their nationality, race, politics and sexual orientation. The ISA had demanded that since Israelis could not participate in the Men’s World Team Championship, it should either be moved from Malaysia or canceled altogether. 

As Israel and Malaysia don’t have diplomatic relations, the latter had stated in September that the safety and well-being of the Israeli players couldn’t be guaranteed because of the sensitivities surrounding the Palestine-Israel conflict. Israel had first contacted the World Squash Federation repeatedly for moving the competition, but they had refused to do so, which led to the petition. Zena Wooldridge, the President of the WSF, said that they need to ensure all nations can participate, instead of canceling it and denying all the teams, prompting Israeli squash players to reach out to the CAS. 

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