The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has issued another warning to countries who refuse to allow athletes from certain nations to compete at major events they are hosting for political reasons.
In a letter obtained by the Jerusalem Post, the IOC referenced two recent incidents – the cancellation of the Men’s World Team Squash Championship in Malaysia after their refusal to grant Israeli athletes visas and the Serbian Government preventing Kosovo from competing at the World Boxing Championships in Belgrade in October and November.
The IOC threatened to prevent these countries, and others who breach the Olympic Charter, from hosting major events if they continue with their policies.
The organisation said it would work with the National Olympic Committees in Malaysia and Serbia to reach a solution with their Governments, “failing which such countries would, unfortunately, exclude themselves from the right to host international sports events until all the necessary assurances can be obtained and respected”.
•Senior IOC officials including sports director Kit McConnell have urged Federations to be vigilant when awarding events to certain countries
IOC sports director Kit McConnell and James Macleod, the organisation’s director of Olympic Solidarity and National Olympic Committee relations, urged all International Federations to be “extremely vigilant when allocating and organising international sports competitions” in the letter.
It represents the latest warning from the IOC over what has been a tricky issue for the Olympic Movement, and one the body has struggled to address.
There have been dozens of examples of countries refusing to grant visas to athletes from other nations for political reasons, as well as Governments directing their competitors not to face opponents from certain countries.
Many of these have involved Iran, but it has never been sanctioned or banned by the IOC.
The International Judo Federation is the only sports body in the Movement to have banned Iran for its anti-Israel policy.
Kosovo were denied entry to Serbia on at least three occasions for the World Boxing Championships, which was criticised by the International Boxing Association (IBA) and the IOC.
The IOC laid the blame at the feet of the IBA – previously named AIBA – for failing to conduct enough due diligence before awarding the World Championships to Serbia, which does not recognise Kosovo.
Malaysia and Israel have no diplomatic ties, and Israelis are barred from visiting the country.
In 2019, Malaysia was stripped of the right to host the World Para Swimming Championships for threatening to refuse Israeli athletes, and the competition was moved to London.