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ASEAN Para’s postponement affects qualifications for Tokyo 2020

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KUALA LUMPUR: The postponement of the ASEAN Para Games 2020 is not only affecting athletes’ performance but also their preparations in earning qualification point to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

National Sports Council (NSC) Paralympics Division director Halimon Mohamad Sood said most national athletes would be taking part in the Tokyo 2020 qualification tournaments, starting from February to June next year.

“Some of the athletes will participate in the Tokyo 2020 qualification tournaments after ASEAN Para Games, particularly in March. Thus, if the ASEAN Para Games remains to be held in that month, it will affect our plans, and coaches have to adjust their training schedules.

“Coaches also have to decide whether they want to send the athletes to the Philippines (ASEAN Para Games) or Tokyo (qualification meets). If we go to the ASEAN Para Games, we will lose the qualification points to Paralympics. If we go to the qualification meets, it will affect our ASEAN Para Games’ medal target.

“We have to review the medal target if there are many athletes involved in the Paralympic Games qualification meet,” he said when contacted by Bernama here today.

Southeast Asia’s largest biennial games for para-athletes was initially scheduled to be held from Jan 18-24, however, it was postponed to March 20-28.

Among athletes who will involve in the Paralympic Games qualification meets are those in badminton, track and field, powerlifting, cycling and swimming events.

The 2020 Paralympic Games will be held from Aug 25 to Sept 6.

Saying that he was personally disappointed with the postponement, Halimon added the matter would also give some negative impacts on the athletes’ emotion as they were currently at their peak performance or nearly reaching it to compete in the Games.

“I’m not sure if the athletes will be able to reach their peak in time again if the Games is held in March. Apart from that, their leave will also be affected as they are not being given that many breaks before the ASEAN Para Games. They are hoping to take a long break after the Games,” he said.

“The same goes for athletes outside the NSC programme who have been given leave by their respective employers until the Games ended. They are going back to work in February,” he added.

Last Friday (Dec 20) the ASEAN Para Sports Federation (APSF) noted that the postponement was due to financial constraint and disbursement of funds from the Philippines Sports Commission (PSC) to the Philippines ASEAN Para Games Organising Committee (PHILAPGOC).

Following the announcement, Malaysian Paralympics Council (MPC) had sent a protest letter to the Philippines Paralympics Committee on the same day and would be meeting with the APSF president Mejar Gen. Osoth Bhavillai to protest the matter verbally.

— BERNAMA

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