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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

I’ll be first to fight if Israeli athletes are allowed, says Faizal


Ahmad Faizal Azumu, who was arrested and jailed by Israel in 2010, says he will be the first in line to fight any move to allow Israeli athletes in. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Ahmad Faizal Azumu has vowed to be the first in line to stop Israeli athletes from being allowed to enter Malaysia for tournaments.

Speaking just hours after an international squash championship in Bukit Jalil was called off, the sports minister said Malaysia’s refusal to admit Israeli players was because there is no diplomatic ties between the two countries.

However, he admitted that his relationship with Israel was more personal.

“I was detained by the Israeli authorities during the 2010 Freedom Flotilla humanitarian mission (to aid residents of Gaza),” he told reporters at the Nilai National Sports Council (NSC) Complex today.

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“I was jailed in an Israeli prison. If we allow Israeli athletes to set foot here, I think I will be the first person to go up against them,” he was quoted as saying in Utusan Malaysia.

In a joint statement earlier today, the World Squash Federation (WSF) and Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) announced that the Men’s World Team Squash Championship set for Dec 7-12 had been called off because of the “possibility that some nations would be unable to compete due to the lack of confirmation over the issuing of visas”.

Faizal denied that Malaysia’s decision not to allow Israeli players to compete in the tournament was an act of discrimination. Instead, he said the WSF should have been more aware about the relationship between the two countries.

“When the international sporting body (WSF) appointed Malaysia as the hosts, they should have known that we would not allow Israeli athletes in.

“I think it is very unfortunate that we are accused of discriminatory practices and so on. If we look at world politics, Israel discriminates against the Palestinians and also dominates the world by proxy. That’s what we should be fighting against.”

It was previously reported that Israel’s squash association had threatened to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland if WSF could not resolve the issue. - FMT

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