Youth Sailing Worlds: Israel pulls out of competition

Published on December 26th, 2015

The Israel Sailing Association decided Wednesday, December 23, not to send two young windsurfers and their coach to a windsurfing competition set to begin Sunday in Malaysia after organizers did not agree to allow them to compete under the Israeli flag or play the national anthem if they won a medal.

The association announced that windsurfers Yoav Omer and Noy Drihan and coach Meir Yaniv would not be attending the ISAF Youth World Sailing Championship in Langkawi, Malaysia.

The association’s union sent a message to the International Sailing Federation, the International Olympic Committee, the organizers of the competition in Malaysia and the Olympic Committee of Israel.

I24 News reported that the Israel Sailing Association head Gili Amir said: “Because to this day they have not received visas, 24 hours before their planned departure, and the limitations and difficulties imposed on us by the Malaysian organizing committee, we decided not to participate in the competition.”

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“The organizers of the competition in Malaysia stipulated that in order to participate in the competition the Israeli athletes would have to compete without an Israeli flag and without any symbols associated with the state of Israel on their clothing and surfboards as well as not playing the Israeli national anthem if any medals were won,” Amir added.

Amir said that the Malaysian demands were unacceptable and since the windsurfers did not receive their visas, Israel decided not to participate. “We condemn the unsportsmanlike conduct of the organizing committee of the competition,” Amir said. “We will not accept being humiliated and we are looking into making a claim against the International Sailing Federation and the host country, in coordination with the Olympic Committee of Israel.”

Richard Gladwell, NZL reported that the effective banning of the current world champions from the World Sailing (formerly ISAF) Youth Sailing Championships has been dismissed by the Malaysian authorities. The reason given by the Government is that Visas have not been issued because Malaysia does not have any diplomatic ties with Israel.

A report in the Malay Daily Online on Christmas Day quotes Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin saying that Malaysia accepts the withdrawal of two Israeli athletes from the Youth Sailing World Championships in Langkawi, two days before the event gets under way.

He indicated that there wasn’t much that could be done to help the Israelis who held Malaysia accountable for their absence at the world windsurfing tournament, as Putrajaya has to abide by its diplomatic policy.

“We accept the decision by the Israeli Youth Team to withdraw from participating in ISAF YWC 2015. As this is a diplomatic issue, we are guided by the existing policy of the Malaysian Government,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted for response.

World Sailing issued a statement regarding Youth Sailing World Championships saying “World Sailing is aware of recent news articles regarding Israel’s attendance at the upcoming Youth Sailing World Championships in Langkawi, Malaysia.

World Sailing has been in liaison with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Malaysian Olympic Committee, the Israel Sailing Federation and the Organising Authority of the 2015 Youth Sailing World Championships to grant Israeli sailors and coaches entry into Malaysia for the event.

Israeli sailors were granted entry by the Malaysian Authorities under certain conditions that competitors sailing in Langkawi have to adhere to. World Sailing were informed on 24 December by the Israeli Sailing Federation of their decision not to send representatives in the Boys and Girls windsurfing events in Langkawi.”

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