PETALING JAYA: There could soon be an added motivation for our athletes to take part in the Olympics.
The Youth and Sports Ministry are looking at introducing a pension scheme for those who qualify as currently only athletes who have won a medal are eligible.
Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican said in Parliament yesterday that they are in discussion with various sports associations on the matter. He added that it will be brought to the Cabinet once details are finalised.
The current pension scheme for Olympians started during the Athens Olympics in 2004. It was extended to Paralympians during the tenure of former Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin but was only for medal winners.
Olympic Council of Malaysia president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria welcomed Reezal’s initiative.
“We would like to thank the minister for considering the OCM’s appeal to introduce a pension scheme for our Olympians.
“The time has come for us to recognise and repay those who have sacrificed years of their life to qualify for the Games.
“When they qualify for the pinnacle of sports and fight for the nation, we all come together regardless of race, religion or creed to cheer them on. They competed on our behalf.
“We rejoiced with them and we despaired with them. Now that they are past their prime and faced difficulties particularly during this pandemic, the move by the government to introduce a pension scheme is timely.
“It is our time to ‘compete’ on their behalf, ” he said, adding that he hopes the proposal will be approve as soon as possible.
To date, a total of 12 athletes have made the cut for the Tokyo Games.
They are Leong Mun Yee, Pandelela Rinong, Nur Dhabitah Sabri and Wendy Ng Yan Yee (diving); Azizulhasni Awang and Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom (track cycling); Khairulnizam Afendy, Shazrin Abdul Latif, Nuraisyah Jamil and Juni Noor Jamali (sailing); Farah Ann Hadi (artistic gymnastics) and Khairul Anuar Mohamed (archery).
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