An early return?

Best foot forward: Prem Kumar is preparing for the World Olympic Qualification Tournament in June.

PETALING JAYA: The movement control order (MCO), due to end on April 28, may be extended to May 12 or even May 26.

But the athletes under the Road to Tokyo programme could be back in training on April 29, if the National Sports Institute (NSI) get their way.

NSI chief executive officer Ahmad Faedzal Md Ramli has revealed that they have proposed to the Youth and Sports Ministry that training be allowed to resume if MCO is extended to its fourth phase (from April 29-May 12).

It is learnt that the Sports Ministry is studying the NSI’s proposal before passing it on to the National Security Council.

The proposal comes in the wake of moves by countries like Australia and Belgium to ease their restrictions to enable their high-performance athletes to return to training in May.

The Malaysia Karate Federation (Makaf) are one of the sports associations hoping the exemption for top-notch athletes will be granted under any extension to the MCO.

Makaf are in the midst of preparing their athletes for the World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Paris from May 8–10 but the World Karate Federation (WKF) have since pushed the dates to June 26-28.

Makaf secretary-general Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad said it would be very good news for the karate exponents if they can start training soon as the clock is still ticking for them to qualify for the now-postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“We hope the National Security Council give the thumbs up for the athletes to resume training despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Olympic qualification tournament dates remain approximately two months away. We need to keep our athletes sharp for the qualifiers, ” said Nur Azmi.

“Training at home for kumite athletes is not going to be enough... nothing much can be done training at home for combat sports. We also need our kumite guys to have sparring training.”

In March, Makaf were given RM588,975 funding by the Sports Ministry to help national karate athletes qualify for the Tokyo Olympics with kumite exponents S. Prem Kumar, R. Sharmendran and the Penang-based kata team.

Azmi said they have the funding for training but now only need to get the athletes into training.

He also added that national coach S. Mahendran would be in charge if the training is allowed to resume at the National Sports Complex in Bukit Jalil.

“We have the budget to prepare our athletes but unfortunately we can’t do much due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the MCO. We are looking at solutions and will work with what’s available, ” said Nur Azmi.

“I don’t think bringing former coach Andris (Vasiljevs), who had trained our kumite guys in Europe, will work. Even if he arrives here any time soon, he will have to go through two weeks of quarantine so it will be a waste.”

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R , Sharmendran , Karate , Covid-19 , Makaf , Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad , ISN , NSC


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