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 Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican
Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican

THE safety and security aspects of national athletes and officials will be given the highest priority before a final decision is made on Malaysia’s participation in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in July following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said the ministry will work closely with the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) regarding both aspects.

He also believes that the International Olympic Council (IOC) and all their affiliates will take appropriate measures by heeding the views and suggestions of the World Health Organisation and the United Nations should the pandemic worsen and get out of control.

He also confirmed that Malaysia were among 45 affiliates of the Olympic Council of Asia who recently gave their backing to the IOC, via a video conference call, for the Olympics to be held as scheduled on July 24-Aug 9, before adding that the support was subject to several conditions.

Among them being IOC to strive to make fair changes to athletes’ qualifying systems, priority be given to the safety and security of athletes and officials as well as to constantly monitor the latest development on the Covid-19 threat.

“There is, however, no confirmation on the status of the Tokyo Olympics for now,” said Reezal in a statement yesterday.

The world body for Olympic sports released a communique on March 17 stating that “with more than four months to go before the Games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage and any speculation at this moment would be counterproductive.”

The IOC, in the same statement, also encouraged athletes to prepare for the Olympics “as best they can”.

The committee stated that they will work together with the various international federations to make any necessary and practical changes to their qualifying systems for Tokyo 2020.

The qualifying process for the Games has been affected by Covid-19.

As of March 17, only 57 per cent of athletes have qualified.

Malaysia are hoping to win their first-ever Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.

There are no clear cut opportunities for gold though Azizulhasni Awang (track cycling) and Pandelela Rinong (diving), who have both qualified, have an outside chance in their respective events.

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