By Gary Anderson

Israel Association of Baseball President Peter Kurz says he is confident that the WBSC will deal with him not being allowed to display his flag at its Congress in Tunisia ©TwitterPeter Kurz, President of the Israel Association of Baseball (IAB), claims he has been reassured by World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) President Riccardo Fraccari that a controversial incident to ban his country's flag is being dealt with properly. 

Kurz was told by Tunisian authorities he was banned from displaying Israel's flag at the inaugural WBSC Congress in Hammamet last month. 

He only agreed to do so following advice that his personal safety could be in jeopardy if he did not follow the order. 

Kurz wrote to Fraccari, elected as the WBSC's inaugural President at the Congress, outlining his anger at the "inexcusable" way he had been treated.

Before travelling to Tunisia, Kurz claimed he had been assured his country "would be recognised and honoured as a member of the IBAF (International Baseball Federation) and the WBSC".

He went on in the letter - which insidethegames has a copy of - to urge Fraccari to "severely reprimand the Tunisian Federation" and to "sanction them from holding any international events or tournaments until they are publicly ready to welcome every country's participation".

The incident has been deemed severe enough to prompt International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach to set-up a taskforce to look into it, while the WBSC has launched its own investigation into the incident.

European Olympic Committees (EOC) President and IOC delegate member for autonomy, Ireland's Patrick Hickey, will lead the taskforce, which falls under the principles of autonomy and good governance that are being made a priority by Bach as part of his Agenda 2020 review process.

The Israeli flag was barred from being displayed by Peter Kurz at the inaugural WBSC Congress in Tunisia ©ITGThe Israeli flag was barred from being displayed by Peter Kurz at the inaugural WBSC Congress in Tunisia ©ITG

But, in a statement to insidethegames, Kurz revealed that he is confident that the matter will be dealt with appropriately.

"The WBSC has been quick to respond and is dealing with this incident in an effective, efficient and transparent manner," he said.

"I am 100 per cent confident, and President Fraccari has given me his personal assurance, that the WBSC Executive Board will reach a just and timely conclusion - a conclusion that will ultimately serve to further reinforce the respect, tolerance and solidarity that defines our sport and makes it an all-embracing platform."

The flag snub is a big embarrassment for the newly formed WBSC Executive Board and is the first major headache for Fraccari since his election as President.

During his speech to Congress upon his election, he spoke of how "unity makes strength" and the need for everyone under the WBSC umbrella "to unite and integrate".

Fraccari has been quick to reassure Kurz that the incident will be dealt with and considering that baseball and softball are lobbying hard for inclusion on the Olympic programme, he has claimed he welcomes the input of the IOC and its investigation.

"I have given IAB every assurance that the newly elected WBSC Executive Board will handle this case in a swift, just and decisive manner and that there will be strengthened policies in place so that no such incident or such a scenario is ever repeated," Fraccari told insidethegames.

"The newly elected WBSC Executive Board has launched an investigation and will fully cooperate with the IOC to determine warranted sanctions.

"The WBSC is treating this case with the highest level of urgency.

"Good governance, accountability autonomy, ethics and promoting Olympic values are absolutely central to the WBSC, and the IOC's involvement in this highly important matter is very much valued and any guidance that is provided will be strictly followed.

"This regretful, isolated incident is in no way what baseball and softball represent.

"Baseball and softball have a long and proud tradition of promoting racial diversity and multiculturalism in society, and have helped to build bridges between nations."

WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari spoke of the need to unite when he addressed the WBSC Congress last month in Hammamet ©WBSCWBSC President Riccardo Fraccari spoke of the need to unite when he addressed the WBSC Congress last month in Hammamet ©WBSC

Tunisia has a history of discriminating against Israeli sport, including an incident last year which saw Malek Jaziri ordered by the Tunisian Tennis Federation to pull-out of a scheduled quarter-final match with Israel's Amir Weintraub at the 2013 Tashkent Challenger tournament in October.

The move led to the International Tennis Federation banning Tunisia from competing in this year's Davis Cup.

Other countries hostile to Israel have also been found guilty of discriminating against their sportsmen and women. 

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) has issued warnings to organisers of World Cup events in Dubai and Doha after Israeli swimmers appeared to be censored during coverage of the events with their names and the Israel flag being blanked out on scoreboards and on television screens.

Their names were also not being properly announced after some events.

In 2009, Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer was refused a visa for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, leading to a fine of £179,000 ($300,000/€220,000) for the organisers although Peer has since competed in the region.

At recent Olympic Games the presence of Israeli athletes led to Iranian athletes refusing to compete when Iran's then judo world champion Arash Miresmaeli would not take part in his first match against Ehud Vaks at Athens 2004, while at Beijing 2008 Mohammed Alirezaei refused to compete alongside Israeli swimmer Tom Be'eri in the heats of the 100 metres backstroke.

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