KUALA LUMPUR; The path is clear for shuttler Lee Chong Wei to be Malaysia’s flag-bearer in the opening ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) executive board members will meet on Thursday to decide on who should be given the honour of carrying the Jalur Gemilang during the march past on Aug 5.
Chong Wei is the most likely candidate as a two-time Olympic silver medallist. He is also unlikely to go for a fifth Olympic campaign in Tokyo in 2020.
Diver Pandelela Rinong was the flag-bearer for the Malaysian contingent at the London Games four years ago.
Then, the Badminton Association of Malaysia were lobbying for Chong Wei to be chosen.
But the OCM were reluctant to give him the honour as Chong Wei was due to play a day after the opening ceremony.
There will be no such problem in Rio as the men’s singles event will only start on Aug 11.
OCM president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja’afar, however, said it was premature to speculate on Malaysia’s choice as flag-bearer.
“We have two athletes (Pandelela and Chong Wei). The board will decide and you will know on Thursday,” said Tunku Imran after chairing a selection meeting for the Olympics on Monday.
To date, 22 Malaysians from nine sports have been confirmed for the Games.
The OCM are confident that eight more athletes will make the cut, making it a contingent of 30.
At the London Olympics, 29 athletes from nine sports represented Malaysia.
“We are looking for at least two from golf, one more from swimming and possibly from open water as well.
“Then, we may get two more track and field athletes under the wildcard quota. Diving may also see one additional athlete depending on the recommendation from the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum).
“For golf, the qualifying period ends on July 11 and there could be more than two.
“Danny Chia and Gavin Kyle Green are inside the men’s top 60 rankings while Kelly Tan and Michelle Koh are also inside the top 60 on the women’s side,” said Tunku Imran.
The 22 athletes who have made the cut are Khairul Anuar Mohamad (archery); Pandelela Rinong, Wendy Ng Yan Yee, Cheong Jun Hoong, Nur Dhabitah Sabri and Ooi Tze Liang (diving); Azizulhasni Awang and Fatehah Mustapa (track cycling); Welson Sim (swimming); Johnathan Wong Guangjie (shooting); Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy and Nur Shazrin Mohd Latif (sailing); Lee Chong Wei, Tee Jing Yi, Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei, Goh Liu Ying-Chan Peng Soon (badminton); Nauraj Singh Randhawa (high jump) and Mohd Hafifi Mansor (weightlifting).