Reezal: Always be wary of athletes’ health and safety

KUALA LUMPUR: Following the fate that befell two national sprinters, all parties, including sports associations, responsible for the preparation, health and safety of athletes have been told to review, and be sensitive to, every aspect involving each athlete.

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said he had also instructed national Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail to always ensure continuous monitoring was carried out on the national athletes’ training programmes.

“Compliance with the SOP (standard operating procedure) must always be given attention and priority, ” he said in a statement yesterday.

National sprinters Khairul Hafiz Jantan and Mohd Haiqal Hanafi’s dreams of competing in the Qosanov Memorial Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan this weekend, were dashed after they were prevented from leaving the country from the KL International Airport (KLIA) on Monday.

The duo were not allowed to leave for Almaty after Haiqal tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival at the KLIA and Khairul Hafiz, being a close contact, also missed the opportunity to go for the June 19-20 meet despite his swab test result being negative for the virus.

“Although this has deprived the sprinters, who won the SEA Games gold in 2017 and 2019 respectively, the opportunity to improve their World Athletics ranking, priority for their health and safety is way more important, ” said Reezal.

Meanwhile, he hoped that the remaining eight national athletes who are in Kazakhstan would be able to carve out meaningful victories for the country.

The eight are Lee Hup Wei (high jump), Andre Anura Anuar (long jump), Mohd Hakimi Ismail (triple jump), Jonathan Nyepa (100m) Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian (110m hurdles), Mohd Ilham Suhaimi (400m), Connie Chu Kang Ni (discus) and Yap Sean Yee (high jump). — Bernama

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