Life has to go on despite SARS, says Hisham

GENTING HIGHLANDS: Despite the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the Youth and Sports Ministry sees no need to stop sending athletes to international meets. 

Its minister, Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein, however, said the ministry would not force athletes, who do not want to go, to compete in foreign meets. 

Hishammuddin said that people had to realise that SARS would remain a problem for some time and so “life has to go on”. 

“Singapore itself is preparing its people to face SARS for the long term. We too have to face this reality,” he said after chairing a youth and sports executive committee meeting at the Awana Golf and Country Club here yesterday. 

He was asked to comment on reports that the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) would not send a squad for the World Championships in Birmingham if the players and coaches decided not to compete for fear of the SARS threat. 

He was also asked whether the ministry would send Malaysian athletes to the SEA Games in Vietnam as the Games are likely to go on in December. Vietnam has been struck off from the World Health Organisation’s list of SARS-affected areas. 

Hishammuddin said he would consult Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja’afar, who attended a recent meeting of the SEA Games Organising Committee in Ho Chi Minh City, on the matter.  

“The National Sports Council and OCM have said there is no need to cancel our plans to send athletes to competitions overseas,” he said  

“So, at this point of time, there is no reason not to go,” he said. 

On another matter, he reminded schools that they were not allowed to construct any building or structure on the school fields. 

Recently, his ministry and Education Ministry had decided that new schools must provide sports facilities including fields.  

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