MAF seek increase in wild card slots for Olympics

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) are hoping for the World Athletics to increase the number of wild card slots for the Tokyo Olympic Games next year.

The qualifying campaign for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics resumed yesterday and will continue until June 29 but travel restrictions and lack of competitions abroad due to the Covid-19 pandemic have left Malaysian athletes in a lurch.

The MAF had planned to host the Malaysian Open to give their athletes a chance to qualify for the Olympics but the event had to be postponed to next year due to all the restrictions.

The national body’s president Datuk S.M. Muthu hopes the world body will make up for all the lost opportunities by increasing the wild card tickets.

Currently, high jumper Lee Hup Wei is in the driver’s seat for the one wild card that has been allotted for Malaysia. The other athletes are vying for the slot are high jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa (46th), triple jumper Mohd Hakimi Ismail (57th) and discus thrower Mohd Irfan Shamsuddin (66th).

“We can’t hold any competitions right now because of Covid-19. We wanted to invite athletes from other countries but the cases are still increasing every day, ” said Muthu.

“Many athletes are unable to participate in the Olympics qualifiers and we hope the World Athletics will come up with an improved qualifying process and even provide more wild card slots.

“It’s not that we don’t want to compete in the qualifiers... we can’t host competitions or let our athletes compete abroad.

“We’ve to follow the government’s decisions as health and safety matter and we can’t take them lightly.”

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