PETALING JAYA: As the Covid-19 pandemic starts to bring sports in the country to a standstill, the National Sports Institute (NSI) have called for calm.
National hammer thrower Jackie Wong Siew Cheer became the first athlete to test positive for Covid-19, raising fears among the fraternity that the virus could affect others.
The 27-year-old Philippines SEA Games silver medallist is believed to have contracted the virus from his father in Sarikei and currently admitted to Sibu Hospital for treatment yesterday. He had been in centralised training with other athletes at the Bukit Jalil sports complex before going home.
The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and Malaysian Football League (MFL) have pulled the plug on all football activities in the country starting from yesterday.
Last week, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that all gatherings, including sports events, would be postponed until April 30, but that decision will be re-examined if the Covid-19 situation improves.
NSI’s sports medicine division director Dr. Kamarul Hashimy Hussein said the Covid-19 situation case is still very much under control but athletes and the public need to take precautions.
“We at NSI view the outbreak seriously as there’s no vaccine for Covid-19 yet but for now, I can say that we should not press the panic button, but now we must always take precaution before things get worse, ” said Dr. Kamarul.
“I think there are no issues yet for athletes when they are training as long as they stick to the precautions like social distancing and keeping good personal hygiene habits.
“The Health Ministry has come out with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and adhering to it can reduce the chances of the virus spreading.”
Dr. Kamarul stressed that although athletes can train and compete, problems will arise when there are spectators involved and lauded the decision to postpone the M-League.
“We need to minimise physical contact as much as possible and it’s impossible to achieve if big crowds are involved at venues, ” he said.
“The solution is to postpone sporting events for the time being. I’m confident the number of cases will eventually go down and sports can resume.”