London will host the rearranged 2019 World Para-Swimming Championships, World Para-Swimming has announced.
The move comes after the International Paralympic Committee decided to strip the original hosts, Malaysia, of the right to host the event citing concerns over the safety of Israeli athletes.
The event will now take place at the London Aquatics Centre, which hosted swimming events at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, between September 9 and 15.
IPC President Andrew Parsons said: “We are delighted to announce London as the host city of the World Para-Swimming Championships.
“The London Aquatics Centre brings back many fantastic memories of the 2012 Paralympic Games and I am sure athletes will be greatly excited to return to such an iconic venue.”
Luke Akehurst, Director of We Believe in Israel, said: “It was disgraceful and a complete abuse of the values of the Olympic and Paralympic movement that Malaysia banned Israeli competitors. Grassroots pressure, including over 3,000 We Believe in Israel activists signing our protest petition, helped ensure there was an international outcry and Malaysia was stripped of its role as hosts. We are delighted by the news that the World Para-Swimming Championships has been relocated to London and that Israeli athletes will be able to participate just like swimmers from any other nation.”
This comes after a meeting in London in January in which the governing board of the International Paralympic Committee decided to remove the event from Malaysia, saying guarantees had not been offered by the country’s home ministry over visas or the use of anthems and flags.
Andrew Parsons, IPC President, said: “When a host country excludes athletes from a particular nation, for political reasons, then we have absolutely no alternative but to look for a new Championships host.
Earlier in January, speaking at the Oxford Union, prime minister Dr Mahatir Mohamed confirmed that the visa-denial was punitive but restated his country’s right to bar visitors from countries whose policies he disagreed with, adding that if the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) wanted to withdraw Malaysia’s right to host the tournament, “they can do so”.
He has also previously described Jews as “hook-nosed” and suggested four million, rather than six million Jews, were killed in the Shoah.
After reporting on Malaysia being stripped of hosting the games, online trolls targeted Jewish News in their thousands – with antisemitic comments, including Nazi imagery, posted on Facebook after the decision was made.