The participation of Israel’s windsurfers at next weekend’s world championships in Oman was thrown into serious doubt on Tuesday after the Ministry of Culture and Sport notified the Israel Sailing Association that the delegation is not allowed to fly out to the Muslim Sultanate on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.
The ministry explained that the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), which is responsible for the safety of Israel national teams when competing abroad, had not authorized the trip to Oman due to security concerns.
The windsurfers received visas to enter Oman several months ago, but the Shin Bet said it has failed to reach an agreement with local security forces and therefore wouldn’t permit the windsurfing delegation’s visit to the country.
The championships begin on Saturday, October 17 and will run for a week.
“Failing to participate in the world championships will affect the Israeli race for a place at the Rio Olympics and will hurt our preparations for the Games,” read a sailing association press release.
Shahar Zubari and Nimrod Mashiah were set to be the ones most affected by the delegation not travel to Oman, with the two battling to represent Israel in Rio.
The world championships are set to be one of the five competitions which will decide who of the two will surf in Rio, with Mashiah currently leading Zubari by 4.25 points after two events.
“It is unacceptable that our top athletes, who are candidates to represent Israel at the Olympic Games and are part of the world’s elite, will miss the world championships,” said ISA chairman Gili Amir. “We are nearing the moment of truth and I hope that a solution will be found.”