KUALA LUMPUR: Former Olympic swimmer Bart Kizierowski has turned down Malaysia's offer to coach its national swimming team following the country's decision to ban Israeli athletes from participating in the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships.
In a Facebook post last week, Kizierowski, who is from Poland, said he declined the "very attractive coaching position" due to "recent statements made by Malaysian politicians regarding the refusal of visa for athletes".
"There is no place for that in sport," he added in the post dated Jan 24, and thanked the swimming community in Malaysia for showing him trust and for offering him the opportunity.
Malaysia announced this month that it would not allow Israeli swimmers to compete in the tournament, which serves as a qualifying event for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. It was scheduled to take place between Jul 29 and Aug 4 in Kuching.
Israel condemned the ban on Israeli athletes as "shameful" and accused Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of "rabid anti-Semitism". The country also called on the International Paralympic Committee to "change this wrong decision or change the venue of the event".
On Jan 27, the IPC stripped Malaysia of its right to host the tournament and said that it would seek a new venue for the same dates.
"All World Championships must be open to all eligible athletes and nations to compete safely and free from discrimination," said IPC president Andrew Parsons.
"When a host country excludes athletes from a particular nation, for political reasons, then we have absolutely no alternative but to look for a new Championships host," he added.
IPC made the decision at its Governing Board meeting in London after the Malaysian Home Ministry failed to provide the necessary guarantees that Israeli para swimmers could particpate in the championships safely and free from discriminations.
Dr Mahathir has reacted to the IPC's action.
He said: "They want to cancel, let them cancel. I find that the world has to follow what Israel says. I don’t understand because the world has the power but still has to listen to Israel ... but we won’t."
Kizierowski was a former World Championships medallist in the men's 50m freestyle and represented his country at four Olympics. According to The Star, he was coaching in Spain before he was offered a position in Malaysia to replace Australian Paul Birmingham Thomas.