Israeli Badminton Player Blames Match Loss on Visa Troubles

Misha Zilberman says he lost to Hsu Jen-hao of Taiwan in his first match in the world championships in Indonesia because he was stuck in Singapore waiting for a visa instead of practicing.

AFP

The Israeli badminton player who only got a visa to compete in the world badminton championships in Indonesia at the last minute says he was knocked out of the competition as a result of his visa troubles, AFP reports.

Misha Zilberman lost to Hsu Jen-hao of Taiwan 21-14, 21-14 in his first match in Jakarta, capital of the Muslim-majority country.  

"I am very disappointed that I didn't show even 50 per cent of what I could because I didn't practise for the last five days or hit any shuttles," the 16-year-old said after the loss in an interview with the Badminton World Federation, according to AFP.

"I thought I could play better... more close to him," he added. "I would have needed three or four days to come and feel everything."

Israel and Indonesia don't have diplomatic relations. Zilberman waited for his visa in Singapore in the days before the tournament, and only got it at the last minute after pressure from the world badminton body. Secretary General Thomas Lund went to Singapore to help Zilberman with the visa, AFP reported.

Zilberman said that, despite his poor showing, he was happy to have played in Indonesia, because it shows that "sport is more important than politics."

Israel does not have formal diplomatic relations many other Muslim-majority countries, some of whom have denied Israeli and Arab Israeli athletes visas to compete in the past.

Zilberman competed in the 2012 London Olympics, the first Israeli badminton player to represent his country at the games. He has won numerous badminton competitions in Israel, including mixed doubles with his mother, who is also his coach.

AP contributed to this report