Malaysia defiant despite being stripped of Paralympic event

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia's government has remained defiant despite losing the right to host the World Para Swimming Championships after it banned Israelis from competing in the event, a qualifying competition for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was unapologetic.

"We stand by our principle, which is that Israel is a criminal nation. It has been breaking international law without anybody saying anything," he said Monday. "We have a right to voice our feelings and to have our own policies."

Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said Malaysia will not compromise on its decision "on the ground of humanity and compassion for the Palestinian plight."

The ban prompted the International Paralympic Committee on Sunday to withdraw Malaysia's hosting rights. The event involves about 70 countries and was to be staged July 29-Aug 4.

The government earlier this month said no Israeli delegates can enter Malaysia for sporting or other events in solidarity with the Palestinians.

A mainly Muslim country, Malaysia is a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause and does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

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