BAM get green light for fans at Malaysia Open

THE Sports Ministry have given BAM the green light to welcome fans into the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil for the Malaysia Open on May 25-30.

However, it will depend on organisational ability and cost efficiency.

Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican yesterday said initial studies, conducted by the relevant authorities, have found that it is possible to have fans at the Malaysia Open venue following a drought due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Should fans be allowed into the stadium, the Malaysia Open — which is also the second last event to offer Olympic qualifying points — will be the first non-closed-door international badminton tournament since the All England in March last year.

"In principle, we have gotten clearance from the National Security Council, and I have given my testimonial on how to organise events in a safe environment.

"My presentation is based on Proof of Concept, and the example was the recent Super League match between Johor Darul Ta'zim and Melaka at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium.

"The Health Ministry, the National Security Council and the police were satisfied with the outcome.

"It is not impossible to welcome fans back but strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) must be implemented," said Reezal after meeting All England champion Lee Zii Jia and Swiss Open women's doubles winners Pearly Tan-M.Thinaah at his office in Putrajaya.

According to Reezal, the only concern would be the efficiency in organising an open-door event and the additional cost to see the event hosted seamlessly.

"I was made to understand that the three tournaments held (Asian Leg of the World Tour) in Thailand in January required all players and entourage to undergo between six and eight swab tests throughout the competition period.

"The movement of players and coaches were also limited to the hotel and stadium only. This will bring the cost up by nearly 50 per cent.

"That is why it will be difficult to host the MotoGP event here in October. There are at least 400 marshals alone, and if we have to test everyone, it will not be feasible cost-wise.

"Having said that, I have assured BAM and their president (Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria) that the Sports Ministry will give their full support to whatever they decide," Reezal added.

Earlier, it was reported that the BAM are open to the idea of having fans at the Malaysia Open venue as it would bring more life to the event.

Based on the current SOP, issued by the government, events hosted in states under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) are allowed to fill up to 10 per cent of the venue capacity or 2,000 fans, whichever lower.

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