Shuttlers prepare for strict safety measures in the US

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian shuttlers had no problems in getting their visas to go to the United States for the World Championships. 

But the players can brace themselves for some tight security measures at Los Angeles, if the events at the embassy yesterday are any indication. 

National number one men's singles shuttler Lee Chong Wei said the security was tight at the embassy. 

“All of us had to be screened. They checked if we brought in any sharp objects and we had to empty all our pockets,” said the two-time Malaysian Open champion. 

And that was preferential treatment. 

“There was a special counter for us. They knew we are national badminton players. The process was smooth and everyone got their visas.  

“After three hours, we were out of there,” he said. 

All the shuttlers and coaches took time off from training in the morning to sort out their visas at the US Embassy ahead of the World Championships, which will be played in Anaheim, California, from Aug 15-21. 

With countries taking stringent security measures following terrorist attacks in Britain and Egypt, Chong Wei said they would have to be prepared for an ordeal upon landing in the US. 

“Most of us are going to US for the first time. We have been told that the security will be very tight. But all these are being done for our own safety. We will bear with it,” he said. 

This is the first time Malaysia are sending a badminton team to the US since the Sept 11 terrorist attack in New York in 2001.  

Previously, a small team went to the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996. 

International Badminton Federation (IBF) communication manager Lindsey Bell assuaged any worries the Malaysians may have.  

“I can assure you that IBF have been briefed on security plans, and are confident that the local organisers are ready to put on a professional event next month.” 

The nine-day premier event will be held at 650,000 square-foot arena at The Arrowhead Pond. 

Besides Chong Wei, the other players at the embassy yesterday were men's singles players Wong Choong Hann, Mohd Hafiz Hashim; men's doubles players Chan Chong Ming-Koo Kien Keat, Ong Soon Hock-Tan Bin Shen, Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Lin Woon Fui, Choong Tan Fook-Chew Choon Eng; women shuttlers Wong Mew Choo (singles), Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty, Ooi Sock Ai-Wong Pei Tty and Fong Chew Yen-See Phui Leng. 

The coaches going to the US are chief coach Yap Kim Hock, Misbun Sidek and Li Mao (singles), Rexy Mainaky and Cheah Soon Kit (doubles). 

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