Men's World Team Squash Championship in Bukit Jalil called-off

30/11/2021 01:29 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 – Just a week before the start of the Men’s World Team Squash Championship scheduled from Dec 7-11, here, the World Squash Federation (WSF) and Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) decided to call-off the tournament.

WSF, in a statement, said the decision was led by the possibility that some nations, reportedly Israel, would be unable to compete due to the lack of confirmation over the issuing of visas and travel authorisations by the Malaysian authorities, as the world body believes in an open and inclusive championship.

Apart from that, the world squash governing body said both the WSF and SRAM are concerned about the surrounding new COVID-19 variant – Omicron – which has been reported in multiple countries around the world and could have a big impact on the ability of certain teams to travel to Malaysia for the event.

WSF President Zena Wooldridge said the world body was extremely disappointed with the cancellation, after working hard with SRAM to put the event on against the backdrop of the global pandemic, including moving the event from Tauranga in New Zealand to the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil here.

She also extended sincere appreciation to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) for their unwavering efforts in assisting the WSF and SRAM to organise the world meet in accordance with the principles and rules of the Olympic Charter.

“My sincere appreciation to the IOC and the OCM for their unwavering efforts to influence the highest authorities of Malaysia to ensure the ability of all participating teams, including Israel, to enter Malaysia and compete, without any political discrimination. It is important to WSF that no nation that wishes to compete misses out on the event.

“I’d like to thank SRAM and its president Gerard Monteiro for the hard work they had put into planning the event prior to this decision. Our focus now turns towards 2022 and we will work closely with our Member Nation Federations as we look to put a robust calendar of events in place next year,” she said.

The world meet is supposed to be the third back-to-back tournament hosted by SRAM, after the last week’s 2021 Malaysian Open and the ongoing Asian Team Squash Championships from today till Dec 4.

Foreign media previously reported that the Israel Squash Association was threatening to bring WSF to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland if the world body couldn’t resolve the matter.

With Malaysia having no diplomatic ties with Israel, this is not the first time in recent years to have controversies related to sporting events, though some Israeli athletes and delegates have been allowed to participate in competitions and events in the country previously.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has stripped Malaysia of the hosting rights of the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in Kuching for not allowing Israeli para-swimmers to participate in the tournament, which serves the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games qualifier, while the 2017 FIFA Congress, an avenue to select the 2026 World Cup host, was also moved.

-- BERNAMA