The CEO of the World Jewish Congress has criticised Indonesian authorities for “unfairly mixing politics and sports” after Misha Zilberman was denied a visa to allow him to compete in World Badminton Championships.
Due to be held in the capital Jakarta next week, Zilberman, who has won two gold medals on the World Tour, as well as five golds at Maccabiah Games, has reportedly been denied an entry visa despite lodging his application six months ago and providing all the necessary documentation.
Robert Singer said: “This decision to bar an Israeli player from an international sporting competition can’t stand, and I urge Indonesia to allow Misha Zilberman to compete in these championships.”
He added: “Let’s be clear about this: Here we have yet another blatant attempt to mix politics and sports, and to exclude Israeli athletes from international competitions. If this decision is upheld, it will do harm to Indonesia’s standing in the world, and it will raise the question whether this is the right place to hold such prestigious events.”
Singer also attacked the organiser of the games, the Badminton World Federation (BWF), for its inaction on the matter and for not providing assistance to Zilberman. He said: “If athletes are excluded on political grounds, at the very least there should be some soul-searching going on. This sad episode casts a shadow on the event, and the failure of the BWF leadership to use its leverage speaks volumes.”