A prominent international e-sports club has proactively dropped an Israeli member of their team for an upcoming tournament in Kuala Lumpur.
The Sweden-based Ninjas in Pyjamas had qualified for the US$1 million Kuala Lumpur Major Dota 2 tournament with Israeli national Neta Shapira, nicknamed '33', as part of their five-member team.
In a statement today, team captain Peter Dager, or 'PPD', said the team recruited Shapira in September not knowing that Valve – the Seattle-based developer of the video game Dota 2, and organiser of its most prestigious tournament series – would be choosing Malaysia as a future tournament venue.
"Upon news of the first major being in Malaysia, we were very concerned about Shapira's ability to obtain a visa.
"I don't know all the details, but from what I've been told, Malaysia doesn't think very highly of Israel," he said.
Dager added that his club had contacted the tournament organiser and Valve to no avail.
Ninjas in Pyjamas has since found a temporary replacement for Shapira to participate in the tournament, which starts on Nov 9 at KLCC.
However, Valve will impose a 40 percent penalty on the team's league points for using a stand-in.
Malaysia has no diplomatic ties with Israel, and has a history of turning away Israeli athletes from international sporting events.
There have been some exemptions, such as English football club Chelsea fielding Yossi Benayoun in an exhibition match against Malaysia in 2011, and when a group of Israeli diplomats visited Kuala Lumpur for a UN conference in February.
Shapira is not the only Israeli national slated to be involved in the Kuala Lumpur Major.
The Dota 2 squad for US-based Evil Geniuses – one of the most highly decorated multi-discipline e-sports clubs in the world – is captained by Israeli national Tal 'Fly' Aizik.
Aizik's visa status for the tournament has yet to be revealed.