Sport and politics don't mix: Israeli windsurfers banned from Malaysia

January 2, 2016 | Windsurfing
Yoav Omer: Malaysia censored him | Photo: World Sailing

Two Israeli windsurfers were refused immigration visas and were unable to compete in the 45th Youth Sailing World Championships in Langkawi, Malaysia.

Yoav Omer and Noy Drihan had won the Men's Under 19 and Women's Under 17 and Under 19 divisions at the RS:X Youth World Championships, in July 2015, but the Malaysian Government decided they were not welcome in the country.

Malaysia considers that Israeli has illegally occupied Palestine, and the diplomatic connections between both nations are inexistent. However, and according to the rules of World Sailing - the world's governing body for the sport of sailing - the organising host must ensure that all national sailing authorities can send their teams to participate on equal terms.

"We will raise this matter in World Sailing Committees and Council to ensure that World Sailing can and will enforce necessary actions in time, so we can hold the organising host of World Sailing Events responsible to the terms under which they were appointed," stated Hans Natorp, president of the Danish Sailing Association.

"It is furthermore our recommendation to the World Sailing Executive Committee to recognise that the participation at the 2015 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship is non-representative and, therefore, consider, if the events status as an official world championship should be revoked."

Noy Drihan: the queen of RS:X youth windsurfing | Photo: World Sailing

As a result, Omer and Drihan were not able to defend their leading ranking positions. A healthy rivalry has censored for political reasons.

"We have three concerns. The first is for our sport. US Sailing believes that sailors of all nations are entitled to equal opportunity to compete. Our second concern is for all athletes. US Sailing feels strongly that sports and politics should not mix, and that athletes should not be used for political gain," adds Bruce J. Burton, president of US Sailing.

"Our third concern is for regattas going forward, specifically the ones that our athletes will participate in and those we host in the U.S. World Sailing must ensure that similar MNA breakdowns will not occur for every scheduled event on the World Sailing schedule."

SurferToday has decided not to publish the overall results of the 45th Youth Sailing World Championships, held in Langkawi, Malaysia. SurferToday believes that sport and politics don't mix - athletes of all regions of the world should never be banned from competition.

"Man has no greater enemy than himself." Petrarch

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