Sarawak prioritises athlete safety amidst Covid-19 outbreak

Athletics track. — DayakDaily.com file pic. // Image by Pexels from Pixabay

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KUCHING, March 2: Sarawak has adopt a ‘safety first’ approach to athletes going overseas for training exposure in preparation for the coming Malaysia Games (Sukma) in Johor due to the prevailing Covid-19 outbreak which shows no signs of abating.

Most hard hit will be the Wushu Federation of Sarawak (WFS) which regularly sends its athletes to China. The epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic is in Wuhan.

Apart from Wushu, other sports affected include karate with its exponents usually sent to Iran for exposure and training but the practice of which had been stopped as a precautionary measure.

Other sports such as hockey or athletics which send their athletes to peninsula-based centres inluding Kuala Lumpur will likely continue to do so.

Sarawak Amateur Athletics Association (Sarawak AAA) secretary Leong Beng Keong said the the state’s athletics team’s preparation for the coming Sukma will not be affected as they normally do not go for exposure trips overseas. For the last Sukma, they were sent to competitions in Vietnam and Kuala Lumpur.

However in tennis, preparations are mostly on home soil with locally organised tournaments attracting athletes from Covid-19 affected countries like China or Hong Kong coming for the invitational CM Cup, the Junior Davis Cup or the Asia Age Group. These competitions are expected to go on.

As for wushu, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah has suggested the athletes travel to Vietnam as an alternative plan for exposure, and adopt a wait-and-see approach as China is still preferred as a training destination, particularly Fujian due to logistics and training reasons.

WFS deputy president James Ting Ing Seek said WFS is monitoring the current situation for any changes. He considered China as the best option for their athletes’ training and exposure.

“We will wait for a month or two to monitor the situation as at the moment, it is too risky to go (to China) even though we are not going to Wuhan.

“We will go there this time to Fujian to prepare for the coming Sukma to be held this July in Johor.

“We cannot decide at the moment as unlike China, other countries do not have specialist centres for the sport which is the main factor to suit our training requirements.

“Such exposure helps, of course, to improve our performance in tournaments like Sukma as little details like the regular training, the rest with the meals we have in time is very important in our travel. Discipline plays an important part in their success,” said Ting.

The Sarawak State Sports Council has sponsored similar trips to China previously in prepartion for Sukma, such as Henan in 2018, contributing to the state’s success in Sukma. Wushu won four gold, four silver and five bronze medals in the last Sukma in Perak. With their four gold medals, they also achieved the target set.

This year, wushu has set a target of two gold medals but the scramble for gold is expected to be tough with rising states like Melaka posing as the main threat to Sarawak in its fight for supremacy in the sport. — DayakDaily