Friday, 19 June 2009

No Ban On Athletes Going Overseas

KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 (Bernama) -- There is no ban on national athletes from going overseas to train or participate in tournaments, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek said.

However, he said there was a directive issued to sports associations for them to exercise caution when sending their athletes to high risk countries affected by the Influenza A pandemic, like the United States of America.

The National Sports Institute (NSI), from time to time, would issue statements and information for reference by sports associations on the pandemic situation, he told reporters here Thursday.

Yesterday, NSI issued an advice to sports associations against competing overseas after the World Health Organisation (WHO) raised the pandemic alert for Influenza A(H1N1) from level 5 to 6.

Meanwhile, National Sports Council (NSC) Acting Director-General Abdul Jalil Abdullah said sports associations should follow the advice by NSI and the Health Ministry.

"The council has advised local sports association to take necessary preventive measures if their athletes are going abroad. After the reminders from the Health Ministry and NSI, we no longer encourage participation of national athletes abroad," he said when contacted by Bernama.

Deputy president of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), Datuk Dr M.Jegathesan said any decision pertaining to participation of Malaysian athletes overseas should be made based on a confirmed information on the Influenza A pandemic.

"We have to evaluate the situation in each country and not to regard that the whole world is affected," he added.

He advised athletes going overseas to ensure they were in good health and to take precautionary measures.

Jegathesan said that based on OCM calendar, the next overseas tournament involving Malaysia's participation would be the Asian Youth Games in Singapore from June 29 to July 7.

He said the council was in frequent contact with the organiser in the republic for latest information on the Influenza A pandemic.

"If the organiser in Singapore gives the green light, our athletes can participate," he added.

However, he suggested that prior permission be obtained by NSC from the athletes' parents before going.

Meanwhile, NSC's Director of the Back-up Unit, Jeffri Ngadirin, said the 30 back-up athletes who would be going to Singapore would be vaccinated end of this week.

The Malaysian Universities Sports Council (MASUM), following a directive from the Higher Education Ministry, has decided to withdraw from the World University Games (Universiade) in Belgrade, Serbia next month.


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