KUALA LUMPUR: The Penang state government is willing to step in as the main sponsor for the Women’s World Championships from March 14-21 – but only if there are no corporate sponsors.
Penang agreed to host the world meet, previously known as the Women’s World Open, after it was initially cancelled last year when Egypt and Hong Kong rejected offers from the Women’s Squash Association (WSA) to be hosts.
Tournament coordinator Thomas Chan believes that it is more important to secure the rights to host the tournament first rather than worry about the costs.
“Our priority is to make sure that the 2013 world meet is not cancelled,” said Thomas during a signing ceremony between the Penang government and WSA on Saturday.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng signed for Penang while world No. 1 Nicol David signed on behalf of WSA.
“It is a pity to have a world No. 1 like Nicol and then see her not having the opportunity to compete in a world meet,” said Thomas.
“That’s why we were more focused on securing the rights to be the hosts first. We’ll worry about the financial part later.”
Guan Eng said that it was a state initiative to bring the world meet to Penang for the first time.
“We estimate the cost to be RM1mil although the organisers will be looking for sponsors first. The Penang government will only step in as a last resort,” said Guan Eng.
“This is to show our support for squash because the Penang government feels that it will be a shame if Nicol is unable to add to her already impressive record of seven world titles.
“We started this initiative because we wanted a continuity for the World Championships ... and also because it is in line with our vision to make Penang a sporting city.
“We are also willing to work with the national associations and the federal government as it’ll also help promote Malaysia.”
As the world meet will be held in mid-March, the KL Open, usually scheduled then, is likely to postponed to a later date.
“It is not ideal to have two major events in such a short span of time. But we will look into it and a decision will be made later,” said Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) deputy president Huang Ying How.