Should we mix sports and politics?
By Nadhirah Sofea Rashid
Malaysia has been stripped of the right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships after banning Israeli athletes from taking part.
The International Paralympic Committee made the decision after the Home Ministry failed to provide guarantees that Israeli Para swimmers could participate, free from discrimination and safely in the championships.
The Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman however stands firm with the government’s decision to ban the Israeli athletes despite pressure from certain quarters saying that the decision to ban is racist and inappropriate.
"Malaysia should not be complicit to a brutal and inhumane regime. Our Palestinian brothers and sisters have been murdered in cold blood and those who live, imprisoned for life in the open-air prison (of Gaza) tightly controlled by the Israeli regime," Syed Saddiq wrote in an Instagram post.
The logic behind this banning is that Israel is a country that commits war crimes and thus, their Paralympic athletes should be banned too.
So, the real question is, do we need to mix sports and political war?
Yes, we are banning and condemning Israel for their oppressive treatment towards the Palestinians but the para swimmers are not the people the government should be condemning and banning.
Why should we bring politics into sports?
Why should Malaysia ban athletes that probably had nothing much to do with the oppressive treatment of the Palestinians.
We cannot deny that the Palestinians have been oppressed by the cruel regime for decades but banning the para swimmers may not prove beneficial to the current standing of Malaysia's diplomatic relations in the eyes of the rest of the world.
Is this a wise move by the government? Will the banning benefit Malaysia?
Malaysia's politicians should reconsider the act of banning as it would cause everyone to look upon Malaysia negatively.
With the rise of human rights and fair treatment, now is not the right time to dismissed others.
Afterall, we have let Israeli athletes into the country before.
In 1997, the government led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad then, allowed the Israeli cricket team to participate in an international tournament in Kuala Lumpur.
Dr Mahathir said he had then allowed the Israelis to enter Malaysia to show that Muslims were not terrorists.