World Para Swimming Championships: Malaysia stripped of hosting 2019 event

WATCH: Malaysia minister defends Israeli athletes ban

Malaysia has been stripped of hosting the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships for refusing to let Israelis compete, says the International Paralympic Committee.

Malaysia, which is a majority Muslim country, banned the athletes because of what Kuala Lumpur sees as Israel's poor treatment of Palestinians.

The Israeli foreign ministry condemned the decision, which it said was "shameful and totally opposes the Olympic spirit".

The event was due to begin on 29 July.

"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," said International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Andrew Parsons.

"All World Championships must be open to all eligible athletes and nations to compete safely and free from discrimination."

The IPC said it had been given assurances by the Paralympic Council of Malaysia in 2017 that all eligible athletes would be allowed to compete safely in Kuching.

Parsons added: "Since then, there has been a change of political leadership and the new Malaysian government has different ideas.

"Politics and sport are never a good mix and we are disappointed that Israeli athletes would not have been allowed to compete in Malaysia."

Mahathir Mohamad - who gave an interview to the BBC's HARDtalk programme in October - became the country's new prime minister last May and has been criticised for holding anti-Semitic views.external-link

Syed Saddiq, Malaysia's minister of youth and sports, has defended his country's decision.

He told the BBC last week that Malaysia would have "lost our moral conscience and moral compass" if hosting an international sporting event was "more important than safeguarding the interest of our Palestinian brothers and sisters who are being mutilated time after time again".

The 2019 championships, which are due to run from 29 July to 4 August, act as a qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Alternative host cities must express interest to the IPC by 11 February.

Parsons told BBC Sport that the IPC is already "working with some possible hosts" and is "confident" the championships will go ahead on roughly the same dates.