THE states spent millions of ringgit to prepare their athletes to win medals in the biennial Sukma (Malaysia Games).
In almost every Sukma, and this is the 15th edition, food poisoning seems to be a regular feature.
It is happening again in Pahang, who is hosting the Games for the second time.
The first case in Pahang involved 12 Johor women hockey players who suffered food poisoning after taking their meals on Friday at the Games Village at Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP).
Two of their key players – Nordalila Ramlee and Zaimah Mohd Nasir – are still recuperating at the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital here.
And it’s not sure whether they can recover in time to play in the Games.
The news came as a major blow to the Johor team who are the defending champions.
How are they going to retain the title with their players feeling weak and exhausted?
They went into action yesterday and were soundly beaten 4-0 by Malacca in their opening Group A match.
It is really a pity as the Johor Sports Council (JSC) spent a lot of money and time preparing and nurturing the team.
The National Sports Council (NSC) also took early preventive measures to avoid food poisoning by setting the menus and ensuring cleanliness.
The NSC have also stationed food division officials and experts from the National Sports Institute (NSI) in Kuantan to make sure the athletes get sufficient calories and also hygienic food. Even the Health Ministry is assisting in monitoring the cleanliness of the food during the Games.
So it is surprising that despite all the measures taken, the athletes still come down with food poisoning.
The question is whether the NSC and Health Ministry officials are really doing their job as the states and the athletes are the ones suffering in pain and agony.
The Pahang state government should take action against the caterers who prepare unhygienic food for the athletes.
Pahang have budgeted a whopping RM238mil to organise the 10-day Games. From the amount RM159mil was spent to improve the infrastructures and to build new facilities. A total of RM9mil was spent on equipment and the balance was used for administration and organisation, food, plus the closing and opening ceremonies.
It was reported that RM2mil was paid to a local pop singer for the opening ceremony on Saturday.
But why can’t they spent more money to hire caterers who can provide hygienic food.
It is not wrong to say the athletes now have a phobia when it comes to having food at the Games.
There is no point in spending millions of ringgit to host the Games when fundamentals like food is not suitable for consumption.