KUALA LUMPUR: There will be no double celebration on Aug 31, after all.
Plans to have the closing ceremony of the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games coincide with Merdeka Day on that date have been shelved because Hari Raya Haji falls on Sept 1.
The closing ceremony for the 29th SEA Games will now be held on Aug 30.
The Games were initially scheduled to be held from Aug 19-31.
Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) secretary Datuk Low Beng Choo confirmed yesterday that the date for the closing of the Games had to be moved “because Hari Raya Haji is a major holiday in Malaysia”.
“The SEA Games organising committee have made the decision to change (the date) and we respect that,” said Beng Choo, who admitted that this would require them to go back to the drawing board.
“The change of date will have a chain effect as we have to make many adjustments. According to the present schedule, Aug 30 is a peak day ... with 31 finals to be contested.
“Now, we have to end everything by lunch time on Aug 30 so that the athletes and officials will have ample time to prepare for the closing ceremony.
“That means we have to re-schedule all the events. We may start early – maybe a day earlier. There are logistics issues that we have to discuss. We’ll need to look into all this.
“A notice will be sent out to all the participating countries as soon as possible. It’s additional work, but we’re confident everything will be resolved soon.”
More than 5,000 athletes from 11 countries are expected to compete in the biennial Games. Malaysia are hosting the Games for the sixth time – having done so in 1965, 1971, 1977, 1989 and 2001.
Malaysia are aiming to win more than 100 gold medals from the 38 sports – comprising 405 events – to emerge as overall champions as a perfect Merdeka gift to the nation.
Malaysia have only emerged overall champions once – when they hosted the Games in 2001. Then, Malaysia bagged 111 golds from 32 sports.