The International Paralympic Committee which is the organization that governs and represents para-sports on the international level, including the Paralympic Games. Has announced that Malaysia has been stripped of the right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships after the country had banned Israeli athletes from participating and has been becoming increasingly racist, homophobic and generally xenophobic. In the announcement, IPC President, Andrew Parsons stated…

“All World Championships must be open to all eligible athletes and nations to compete safely and free from discrimination. 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.

The Paralympic Movement has, and always will be, motivated by a desire to drive inclusion, not exclusion. Regardless of the countries involved in this matter, the IPC would take the same decision again if it was to face a similar situation involving different countries.“

Malaysia has seen increased attention lately because of its discriminatory and oppressive policies targeting people based on their national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. A recent article published in a leading Malaysian newspaper included a “how to spot a gay” checklist and drew out a large outcry from local activists. The media rhetoric has led to the deaths of many people suspected of being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender In Malaysia, homosexuality is illegal and can lead to a 20-year prison sentence.

The IPC moved to strip Malaysia of the World Para Swimming Championships after Malaysia imposed a blanket ban earlier this month which banned anybody from Israel from entering the country participating in events hosted by the country. The IPC announcement clarified…

“In September 2017 when the IPC signed the contract with the Paralympic Council of Malaysia (NPC Malaysia) to host the World Para Swimming Championships, we had assurances that all eligible athletes and countries would be allowed to participate in the event with their safety assured.

Since then, there has been a change of political leadership and the new Malaysian government has different ideas. Politics and sport are never a good mix and we are disappointed that Israeli athletes would not have been allowed to compete in Malaysia.”

While the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships is currently working to select a new host. It’s refreshing to see the International Paralympic Committee showing its muscle and standing up to the ignorance, fear and hate that leads to discrimination and oppression.

By Dirk Smith