Youth and Sports Minister: Sukma in Johor may be held without spectators

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu and OKU Sentral president Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi at the OKU Sentral drive-through vaccination centre at the Johor Baru City Council Aquatic Centre, September 8, 2021. — Bernama pic
Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu and OKU Sentral president Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi at the OKU Sentral drive-through vaccination centre at the Johor Baru City Council Aquatic Centre, September 8, 2021. — Bernama pic

JOHOR BARU, Sept 8 — Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu today said that the government may consider organising Malaysian Games (Sukma) in Johor without having spectators due to Covid-19.

Ahmad Faizal said this scenario was a possibility after taking into account the recently concluded Olympic Games in Tokyo that barred spectators to ensure there is no surge in Covid-19 cases.

He said a decision will also be made to determine the method for organising Sukma, including the involvement of young athletes under the age of 17, who are currently not vaccinated.

“We need to understand that Sukma will involve athletes who are 17 years and below and the games are the best place for us to unearth new talents.

“With the current (Covid-19) situation, we have to figure out the best way to hold the games with the safety and health of these athletes in mind,” Ahmad Faizal told reporters when met after his visit to the OKU Sentral drive-through vaccination centre (PPV) at the Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) Aquatic Centre here today.

Also present was OKU Sentral president Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi.

Ahmad Faizal also pointed out that the cancellation of Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) President’s Cup and Youth Cup competition this year, which was announced last week, was a responsible and timely decision given the Covid-19 risk assessment that was taken into account.

“Many are unhappy following the cancellation, but the decision was made in the best interest as it will be difficult for us to control the players,” he said, adding that it was not possible to manage and even have a safety bubble for a large number of players in each squad.

Ahmad Faizal, who is the Tambun MP, also noted that most of the players are not vaccinated and it will be the organiser’s responsibility to ensure their health and safety.

He said the same approach will be applied for Sukma.

On the preparations for Sukma in Johor, Ahmad Faizal said he will discuss the matter with State Tourism, Youth and Sports Committee chairman Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi in a meeting later today.

He noted that preparations for Sukma in Johor were good as all the venues have been completed.

“I see that the maintenance of these venues is done well and I believe Johor is ready for Sukma.

“With that, I will discuss the matter with Onn Hafiz on the best way for Sukma to move forward next year,” said Ahmad Faizal.

The 2020 Sukma that Johor is hosting has been postponed to March 6 to March 14 this year while Para Sukma was similarly rescheduled from April 5 to April 10.

However, both games were cancelled following the surge of Covid-19 cases in the country.

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