Sports minister: Tokyo Olympics organiser never asked to deny entry to Malaysia, athletes welcome to join

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Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican also affirmed denials from the Olympic games organiser of a news report purporting that Malaysia would be among 10 countries allegedly to be blocked from joining the games next month. — Bernama pic
Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican also affirmed denials from the Olympic games organiser of a news report purporting that Malaysia would be among 10 countries allegedly to be blocked from joining the games next month. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — Malaysia remains welcome to join the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in Japan, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican confirmed today.

Reezal Merican also affirmed denials from the Olympic games organiser of a news report purporting that Malaysia would be among 10 countries allegedly to be blocked from joining the games next month.

In confirming that Malaysia could still join the games, Reezal Merican said he had personally received confirmation from Japan’s ambassador to Malaysia, His Excellency Oka Hiroshi, as well Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry.

The minister said this confirmation follows the statement by Tokyo 2020 organising committee CEO Toshiro Muto and the Olympic Council of Malaysia’s president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria who denied a news report that 10 countries including Malaysia would be blocked from joining the games.

“On behalf of the government, I wish to record my thanks and appreciation to His Excellency Oka Hiroshi, Japan’s ambassador to Malaysia, who is always providing the latest updates and also helping in confirming that Malaysia is always welcome to join the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics that will be carried out soon,” Reezal Merican said in a statement today.

Reezal Merican said Malaysia’s athletes are currently undergoing preparatory training for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, adding that he was thankful that all of the country’s athletes are in their best condition to take on the challenge of representing the nation in the Tokyo 2020 games to start on July 23.

Separately, the Embassy of Japan in Malaysia today issued a press statement to clarify that Malaysia would be welcome at the games.

“Japan welcomes Malaysian athletes to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

“The Government of Japan has never requested the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to deny entry of athletes from countries including Malaysia, where new variants cases were found, unlike a media report,” it said in the brief statement.

“Necessary preparations are underway including putting in place full measures to prevent infection to ensure that Tokyo Olympics approaching next month are held in a safe and secure manner.

“Japan sincerely hopes that the athletes from Malaysia, a long-time friend country of Japan, will achieve great results in the Tokyo Games,” the embassy concluded.

Yesterday, local daily New Straits Times reported that the Japanese government had in a circular asked the Tokyo Olympics organising committee to consider denying entry for athletes from 10 countries including Malaysia due to Covid-19 cases, and that stricter measures be imposed on such athletes including a 14-day quarantine period if denying entry to them is not possible.

The 10 countries were listed in the news report as also including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Vietnam and the United Kingdom.

Following the news report, national news agency Bernama yesterday reported Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee CEO Toshiro Muto as dismissing claims of the possible denial of entry to athletes from 10 countries including Malaysia, noting: “We have never heard of that, it is completely groundless, we cannot consider it as a possibility.”

He was instead quoted as saying that athletes from several countries such as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh would instead be required to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before entering Japan for the Olympics, in light of concerns regarding a new variant from India.

Yesterday, OCM president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria was also reported by Bernama as saying that the OCM had not received any announcement regarding this and intended to seek explanation from the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government.

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