KUCHING: Sports leaders in Sarawak yesterday hailed the deferment of Sukma XX Johor 2020, saying that it was a timely and wise decision as the country struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
“It gives us breathing space to address current critical and deadly Covid-19 problem worldwide,” said Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association president Dato Patrick Liew.
“Most of us are demotivated (because of the pandemic) and not mentally ready for training as our utmost concern is the safety and health of our athletes and coaches.”
He said the exposure trip for three potential medallists in the United States was cut short due to the grave situation of the Covid-19 there.
“l would also like to urge the highest authority and decision makers for Sukma Johor to defer the games to next year. However, they should allow those athletes whose age hit 21 (age limit) this year to participate in the games,” he added.
Liew said the postponement would also enable the country to focus on rebuilding economic stability which may be affected by the pandemic.
Sharing Liew’s sentiment, Wushu Federation of Sarawak president Allen Wong Siew Poh opined that the biennial meet should be held when there is no longer any threat from the Covid-19.
“I believe the deferment will give us more time to prepare the athletes for the challenge. Every state is having the same period of time for preparation but we are more committed.
“At the moment, our athletes are training at home and I still have the hope of sending the potential medallists to China for exposure stint just like in the past,” Wong said while hoping that the coronavirus situation will improve soon.
Amateur Tenpin Bowling Association of Sarawak president Sunny Si spoke of mixed emotions after the Johor Sukma was postponed.
He was disappointed that the bowling team’s sacrifice in training and preparations were in vain and their hopes dashed by the virus.
He also felt that all the efforts have come to nought.
“But all is not in vain, the time will come for them. Perhaps not soon but it will. Sukma is always in our hearts and personally I agree with the postponement. We are in absolutely no position to take risks. Stay safe, stay at home,” Si added.
Amateur Swimming Association of Sarawak head Dato Wee Hong Seng felt that it was the right move as the country’s top priority is now fighting against the virus while all training and preparations were affected since the Movement Control Order (MCO) came into effect.
“We need to rebuild the public’s confidence and the most important is the health and safety of our citizens which are always the top priority.
“I fully support the decision and l personally think it is a good, wise and people-centric decision,” said Wee.
Squash Racquets Association of Sarawak president Robert Lau agreed with Wee that it was the right thing to do while referring to the Tokyo Olympics which was also postponed on Tuesday.
“The health of our athletes and officials must be the top priority,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sarawak Amateur Boxing Association president Datuk Rahman Lariwoo said all those involved in participating or organising Sukma Johor had to abide by the decision.
“The safety of our boxers is most important,” Rahman said, adding that the athletes are fit and training at home.
In view of the growing threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, the 20th Sukma, which was set to take place in Johor from July 11 to 19, was postponed.
Minister of Youth and Sports Dato Sri Reezal Merican Naina Merican made the announcement on Wednesday after chairing the Sukma Supreme Committee meeting via video teleconferencing in Putrajaya.
The new date will be decided in the next meeting that will be held no later than May.
Reezal also revealed that the Games could be held in December at the earliest, or even moved to 2021 depending on the coronavirus situation in the country.
The minister said the Johor Sukma would not clash with any public examinations or major sports activities, adding that they are also considering the interest of the Games stakeholders especially Johor as the host.