Abdul Karim (second left) and Assistant Sports Minster Datuk Snowdan Lawan (centre) inspect the main swimming pool at the Pandelela Rinong Aquatic Centre with other officials. — Photo by Muhamad Rais Sanusi
KUCHING: Sarawak athletes preparing for the Malaysia Games (Sukma) in Johor next March can resume normal training on June 17. This marks the end of the three-month freeze after sporting facilities were closed nation-wide with the enforcement of the Movement Control Order (MCO) on March 18.
While most sporting and recreational activities especially those involving close physical contact are still prohibited for the public, state athletes for Sukma will be exempted as long as they adhere to the standard-operating-procedures (SOP) set by the state government, said Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
“I have given my directive to the Sarawak Sports Corporation, even though the SOP from the federal (government) said certain facilities cannot be opened. Yes, I agree (with the federal government) where one of the facilities prohibited from opening are swimming pools. But as far as our state athletes are concerned, I want it to be open for them.
“Because you cannot train the swimmers and divers on the field. You have to train them in the pool. If you keep on closing the pools until August or September then we can forget about winning medals.
“That also applies to rugby and football. Yes we have got the SOP but we are not going to let them just train among themselves. However they must conform to all the SOP.
“The SOP such as social distancing and checking of body temperature will have to be complied with. Because I want to see the (Sarawak) team at its peak just before Sukma and it has to start from now,” he told a press conference yesterday.
Abdul Karim said the same privilege also applies to Sarawak para athletes preparing for the Para Sukma which is usually held right after Sukma.
Although many of their (para athletes) main facilities here are being used as a Covid-19 screening centre, he added, he had directed the Sarawak Sports Complex here to accommodate the para athletes.
“While the federal has its own SOP to allow athletes to prepare for the Sukma Games, I don’t want our athletes to be trapped.
“I want our athletes to return with no less than being a champion of Sukma 2021,” he said.
Meanwhile, the minister also advised members of the public, who will be allowed to utilise sporting and recreational facilities starting June 17, to adhere to the SOP during the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) period.
Details of the SOP can be obtained from NSC website at https://www.mkn.gov.my/web/ms/sop-pkp-pemulihan/.