Indonesia denies visa to Israeli badminton player for tourney (The Times of Israel)

Indonesian authorities have yet to grant a visa to an Israeli Badminton player despite repeated requests on his part, in a move that would effectively bar him from competing in the World Badminton Championships set to be held in Jakarta on Monday.

Misha Zilberman, who represented Israel at the London 2012 Olympics and spent the past several weeks practicing in Singapore, first filed a visa application six months ago, only to have his request turned down by the Indonesian government. Further attempts by Zilberman, 26, were met with similar responses.

The Israeli player expressed frustration over the continued denial in a Facebook post earlier this week.

“They are not giving me a visa to participate in the World Championships,” Zilberman wrote.

“After six months of exchanging letters, and after sending all the documents they requested, and after we arrived in Singapore, they are saying no. The World Badminton Federation knew about this and didn’t help. They preferred to ignore it and just waited for it to pass. After two weeks in Singapore waiting for a visa they are probably sending me home instead of to the World Championships.”

Robert Singer, the CEO of the World Jewish Congress said the decision not to hand Zilberman a visa unfairly mixed politics and sports, and called on Indonesian officials to immediately grant the visa application so that the player may take part in the international sporting competition.

“If this decision is upheld, it will do harm to Indonesia’s standing in the world, and it will raise the question whether this is the right place to hold such prestigious events,” a press statement issued by Singer read. “This decision to bar an Israeli player from an international sporting competition can’t stand, and I urge Indonesia to allow Misha Zilberman to compete in these championships.”

Singer further charged at the Badminton World Federation (BWF), which organized the competition, for not providing assistance to Zilberman.

“If athletes are excluded on political grounds, at the very least there should be some soul-searching going on,” he stated. “This sad episode casts a shadow on the event, and the failure of the BWF leadership to use its leverage speaks volumes.”

The Olympic Committee of Israel was reportedly working to resolve the situation, but has not come up with a solution so far.

Indonesia, a nation of some 250 million citizens, is the world’s largest Muslim country in terms of population.

Arab and Muslim countries have repeatedly barred Israeli athletes from attending matches, sometimes as punishment for the barring of Palestinian athletes by Israel from attending international tournaments.

The phenomenon became more prevalent after 2010, when Hamas, the terrorist group that rules Gaza, and Dubai accused Israel of assassinating Hamas’ commander Mahmoud al- Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel. They allege that the plot involved a dozen assassins using forged passports from Britain, Ireland, Germany and France, among other countries.