When Malaysia refused visa to Israeli athletes to participate at the World Para Swimming Championships earlier this year it became a worldwide “scandal”.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) even took the drastic decision to strip Malaysia of the right to host the tournament.
In the aftermath of the Kashmir intrusion early this year, India denied visas to two Pakistani shooters to participate in a World Cup event. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) were quick to threaten sanctions against India.
But, numerous cases of western countries including the USA quietly refusing foreign athletes visas do not seem to receive the same outrage.
Russian Premier League outfit Spartak Moscow may be forced to skip an upcoming international football showdown in Orlando as their players have been experiencing trouble obtaining US visas for the trip.
Earlier this year, two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova was forced to miss the Citi Open WTA tournament in Washington because she could not get her visa despite having made her application months earlier.
It was only after her predicament was reported by the media that the Russian star received her visa just in time for her to play at the US Open.
Earlier this month, Filipiono Jerwin Ancajas’ IBF junior bantamweight title defense against Jonathan Javier Rodriguez was canceled after the Mexican challenger failed to get his United States visa on time.
Nine Guatemalan Under-15 football players had to miss the CONCACAF boys under-15 championships in Florida because they were denied visas.
No action were taken against the hosts by FIFA and neither did it create a media storm.
The American State Department had issued a statement saying that the agency cannot share details for denying the visa application because it was confidential under federal law.
Last month UFC straw-weight champion Weili Zhang of China was denied a US visa to participate in the event due to the trade conflict between China and the USA. It was eventually given only after the matter was widely reported by the media and negative reactions in social media.
In September this year, the Israeli government cancelled the Palestinian national football club championship, otherwise known as the FIFA Palestine Cup. The contest between Gaza’s Khadamat Rafah club and Nablus’s FC Balata, located in the central West Bank, had to be called off when Israel denied travel permits to the Gaza team. The trip would have been just a couple of miles.
It was the second time the game was canceled, having already been postponed from July, when 31 of the Gaza club’s 35 players were refused travel permits.
FIFA’s reaction to this was doing nothing.
It may be a moot question, but should Malaysia have been stripped of the rights to host the World Para Swimming meet by the IPC?
Perhaps the mistake the Malaysian government did was openly asserting their displeasure with Israel’s policy against Palestine.
Instead of throwing a blanket ban on the Israeli’s from participating in future events, follow the step taken by the US State State Department – process and reject visa applications at the eleventh hour.
And if anyone questions the decision cite confidentiality under the Malaysian immigration law.