by BERNAMA / pic by AFP
MELAKA – The final list of Malaysia’s contingent to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be known early July as the qualifying rounds of several sporting events involving Malaysians will still take place until June.
National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail said the qualifying process for the Olympics and Paralympics was still underway as many international championships were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The qualifying process also depends on international sports associations as they struggle to organise competitions, with some having to cancel and use old rankings, causing some national athletes to lose their chance to compete at the Olympics.
“For badminton, we still are waiting for the two final championships, the Malaysia Open and the Singapore Open while for diving, several of our athletes have departed for Tokyo for the last qualifying process to the Olympics,” he told reports at Seri Negeri here today.
He was escorting Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali to officiate the Road To Tokyo 2020 contingent support expedition.
Ahmad Shapawi said they had initially targeted 33 more athletes would qualify for the Olympics and Paralympics until the last qualifying process but several sports had lost their opportunity, including shooting and fencing.
Elaborating, he said the national contingent was also prepared if the men’s hockey team under chief coach Arul Selvaraj is called up in the last minute to replace countries that pulled out.
“Our hockey team is the main reserve team and there are rumours that South Africa will pull out due to some limitations but we are waiting to see if there is confirmation that they really do not want to send a team.
“The team has been undergoing central training since last June to prepare for international championships, including friendly matches against Great Britain and Japan, who will be playing at the Olympics and if we qualify, we are ready to go,” he added.
Currently, 12 national athletes have managed to book their spots in several events, including cycling, artistic gymnastics, archery, sailing and diving, while 14 Paralympic athletes in seven disciplines, including athletics, weightlifting, badminton, cycling, archery, boccia and swimming, have also qualified.