Azizul and Shah Firdaus may stay grounded due to virus concerns

Stay safe: Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom (left) and Azizulhasni Awang have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics where they will be competing in the individual sprint and keirin.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian track cyclists Azizulhasni Awang and Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom may not go to Europe or even Asia as part of their preparation for the Tokyo Olympics this year.

Depending on the Covid-19 situation, the world governing body UCI have proposed to hold the first edition of the Track Cycling Nations Cup in three continents. Newport, Wales, will hold the first round from April 22-25 followed by Hong Kong (May 13-16) and Cali, Colombia, from June 3-6. The Track Cycling Nations Cup will replace the Track World Cup Series.

It would have been a no-brainer under normal circumstances to go where the best converge but Malaysian cycling coach John Beasley is not about to take ay chances with the Tokyo Olympics just months away.

“It’s just risky (to go to Europe) when you think that the Olympics is just weeks away by that time, ” said Beasley.

“The Covid-19 risks will likely remain like it is out there and it’s not worth taking that chance.

“There is also the quarantine process you have to comply with in certain countries.

“If the borders stay open by then, our plan may be to go around Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia before the Olympics, ” he said.

Azizul and Shah Firdaus have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics where they will be competing in the individual sprint and keirin.

The situation is also tricky for the duo as they are based in Melbourne and Australia have already shut its doors to foreigners since middle of last year.

Rio Olympics bronze medallist Azizul and Shah Firdaus will be unable to return to their training base if the immigration rules remains as it is by April.

There is also a 14-day mandatory quarantine rule for Australian citizens who want to return home but for Beasley, it is the risk of catching Covid-19 that is on his mind.

Studies have shown that more than 50 per cent of Covid-19 patients were still struggling with fatigue up to 10 weeks later and this is just not good news to a track sprinter.

Australia and New Zealand have opened up green travel zone provided the traveller is free of Covid-19.

“Rest assured we will have the boys ready either way, ” added Beasley.

Azizul and Shah Firdaus should get the chance to see action in at least one competition as Australia are planning to hold their national track championships in Brisbane in April.

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