UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

UKLFI sends warning to International Paralympic Committee

UKLFI has warned the International Paralympic Committee that it must move the World Para-Swimming Championship unless Malaysia guarantees participation by Israeli competitors.

UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) has written to the Chief Executive of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) warning that going ahead with the World Para-Swimming Championship in Malaysia will be illegal if Israeli competitors are barred.

Malaysia has stated that it will not grant visas to Israeli athletes to attend the championship, due to be held in Malaysia later this year, or any other sports event in Malaysia.

UKLFI’s letter urges swift action to resolve the matter, either by the grant of visas or the relocation of the championship. UKLFI points out that failure to do so would lead to extensive contraventions of IPC’s rules by the IPC itself and by Malaysia’s National Paralympic Committee, as well as breaches of the law of Germany (where the IPC has its seat) and of contractual obligations.

Sam Green, director of UKLFI commented: “The IPC has the chance to prevent a wrong before it occurs.  The issue with the Swimming Championship has been raised months ahead of the games there is still an opportunity to avoid the disaster of Israeli exclusion, but the IPC must be resolute.”

UKLFI’s letter draws attention to antisemitic remarks of the Malaysian Prime Minister and to the fact that the Paralympic games were founded by Sir Ludwig Guttman, who fled Nazi antisemitic discrimination.  It would be an insult to his memory if the organization he founded approved modern antisemitism and discrimination.

UKLFI urges the IPC to follow the examples set by other international sports associations which have taken robust steps to end racist discrimination against Israeli competitors:

  • Following our correspondence drawing attention to the breaches of the rules of the International Judo Federation (IJF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Slam tournament, a judoka who refused to shake hands with an Israeli was punished and Israelis were treated equally and properly at the 2018 tournament in Abu Dhabi.

  • Saudi players who refused to play the Israeli and their coach were suspended for six months after we raised the issue with the Badminton World Federation drawing attention to the rules that had been breached.

  • A world chess tournament in December 2018 was moved from Riyadh to Moscow because Saudi Arabia refused to guarantee that Israeli participants would be permitted to enter the country, following representations by UKLFI and others.