KUALA LUMPUR: The National Sports Council (NSC) will review all upcoming overseas trips for the national athletes under the 2006 programme following the outbreak of the deadly and infectious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the war in Iraq.
Thus far, the national snooker team have withdrawn from the Asian Championships, which will be held in Shenzen this month.
The silat team have also pulled out of the Belgium Open and will head for a tournament in Jakarta this month as part of their preparation for the SEA Games in Vietnam in December.
The NSC director of international athletes preparation, Ahmad Shapawi Ismail, said: “We have been instructed by the government to review all overseas competitions for our athletes in countries that have been deemed unsafe.
“We will also look at the trips that require our athletes to pass the war zones in the Gulf. So far, we have withdrawn our snooker and silat teams from competitions in China and Belgium respectively.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have advised travellers not to go to Guangdong because of the SARS threat while Malaysia extended the advise by asking them to not to go to Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and Canada.
“We need overseas exposure for the athletes to get them ready, especially for the Vietnam SEA Games but we have to be careful and not risk the safety and health of our athletes,” said Shapawi.
He added that they were now in constant contact with several athletes, who were sent out for overseas training stints much earlier.
Gymnast Ng Shu Wai is in Beijing to prepare for the World Championships in the United States in August while his younger brother, Shu Man, Nurul Fatiha Hamid and Onn Kwang Tung are in competition in Ukraine.
Squash players Nicol David and Sharon Wee are based in Amsterdam and they are competing in several international Open tournaments.
Athletics' Mohd Zaiful Zainal Abidin, Malik Tobias, Moh Siew Wei and Noraseela Khalid are in Leipzig for a six-month training stint to prepare for the Asian Track and Field (ATF) in Manila in September and also the Vietnam SEA Games.
“We called up Shu Wai to find out how he was faring in Beijing. He is fine and adjusting well to the training environment there.
“We did similar checks on the other athletes,” said Shapawi.
However, he added that there would be no change in their plans to send the national men's hockey team for a stint in Europe next month and also the rhythmic gymnastics team's participation in Bulgaria and France.
Meanwhile, the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) have advised sports associations not to send teams or attend any sporting activities in countries affected by SARS.
The OCM president, Tan Sri Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’afar, said that the associations should heed the advice of the Health Ministry and not risk their athletes to the illness.
He said that teams who have upcoming tournaments in the affected countries should take immediate action and not pull out at the last minute.