Badminton: Israeli set to miss championships due to visa debacle

Badminton: Israeli set to miss championships due to visa debacle
Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew had won only a SEA Games men's singles Round-of-16 match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday but, for the 17-year-old, that victory was almost as good as winning the gold medal.

JAKARTA - An Israeli badminton player looks set to miss next week's world championships in Indonesia after authorities failed to grant him a visa.

Misha Zilberman, who represented Israel at the London 2012 Olympics, said that he was stuck in Singapore, a short flight from Jakarta, despite attempting for months to secure permission to enter Indonesia.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, and the Jewish state do not have formal diplomatic ties and it is difficult for Israelis to visit the Southeast Asian nation.

"After six months of exchanging letters, and after sending all the documents they requested, and after we arrived in Singapore, they are saying no," Zilberman, 26, wrote on Facebook, according to the Jerusalem Post newspaper.

"After two weeks in Singapore waiting for a visa they are probably sending me home instead of to the World Championships." The week-long world championships begin on Monday.

According to Indonesian immigration regulations, Israelis who wish to visit the country must obtain a special visa in Bangkok or Singapore after getting a sponsorship letter from Indonesian officials.

Yuni Kartika, a spokeswoman for the Indonesian Badminton Association, confirmed Zilberman was yet to be granted a visa but insisted the organisation was pushing authorities to grant him one.

The immigration department had informed the association his visa application was still being processed but refused to explain the delay, she said.

"There is still a possibility, as soon as his visa issued, we will send it to Singapore immediately," the spokeswoman added.

Immigration officials could not be contacted for comment.

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