Disabled Israeli swimmers fear they will be denied entry to Malaysia to take part in the World Para Swimming Championships in July.
Israeli sports officials have been trying to obtain visas for two months without success, and now fear the decision has been influenced by Malaysia’s 93-year old Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohammad, who has been accused of antisemitism.
More than 600 swimmers from 70 countries will take part in the crunch tournament but the Israel Paralympics Committee said its swimmers may be denied access, owing in part to the lack of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
In October, Mahathir refused to apologise for calling Jews “hook-nosed” and last month launched a stinging attack against Australia for recognising West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying: “Jerusalem has always been under Palestine.”
Nisim Sasportas, chair of the Israeli Olympic Committee, said: “Everyone says it will work out, but we have still not received an invitation or visas. We are continuing to apply pressure.”