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Athletics at SEA Games could be under threat

SINGAPORE — Already under fire from its neighbours for omitting eight athletics events from the 2017 SEA Games, hosts Malaysia will now have to deal with an irate Asian Athletics Association (AAA).

SINGAPORE — Already under fire from its neighbours for omitting eight athletics events from the 2017 SEA Games, hosts Malaysia will now have to deal with an irate Asian Athletics Association (AAA).

The Asian governing body has threatened not to give its approval for athletics to be held at the Games if the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) insists on dropping the men’s and women’s marathon, 10,000m and 3,000m steeplechase, the decathlon and heptathlon from the 46-event competition.

“They want to leave out eight events and that is not allowed,” said AAA honorary secretary Maurice Nicholas.

“When you undertake to organise a SEA Games, you must do all the events. If they insist on leaving them out, we will not give them the permit (to host SEA Games athletics).

“They gave the reason that they can’t win medals. But others train hard, how can you deny them?”

According to the Malay Mail, Malaysian Athletics Federation president Karim Ibrahim said Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar and Laos would not send their athletics teams to the 2017 SEA Games if the events are left out. Some nations could also boycott the triple jump, discus and high jump events that Malaysia is targeting gold in.

Following a two-day meeting in Kuala Lumpur, OCM president Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’afar — who is also the deputy chairman of the KL SEA Games organising committee — announced yesterday that the SEA Games Federation (SEAGF) Council had accepted the provisional list of 34 sports and 342 events to be contested at the biennial Games, which will be held from Aug 19-31.

However, its 11 member countries will have until the end of March to lodge their appeals. The list of sports and events will be finalised at the next SEAGF Council meeting in July.

While winter sports such as ice hockey, figure skating and short-track speed skating will make their debut in Malaysia, canoeing, fencing, judo and triathlon have been left out. Women’s events in boxing, rugby 7s, water polo, weightlifting, billiards and snooker are also missing.

Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) secretary-general Chris Chan said yesterday the SNOC had appealed for the inclusion of fencing, canoeing, floorball — which won a total of 12 gold medals at the 2015 edition — and triathlon, as well as additional events for athletics, swimming, short-track speed skating, women’s rugby 7s and women’s water polo.

They had also appealed for ice hockey to be an open event instead of Under-21, and that was unanimously supported and ratified.

Chan said the SNOC will work with Sport Singapore and affected national sports associations on their appeal strategy, but added: “There is a limit to the number of sports and events which the Malaysian SEA Games organising committee can manage for their sports programme, so some appeals will have to be turned down eventually.”

Stressing that the list of sports and events was not final, OCM secretary-general Low Beng Choo told TODAY: “I don’t know why everyone is so jumpy. Singapore went through this for the 2015 SEA Games; the appeals come in and then you add them in and it is a normal process. Every appeal must be heard on merit.”

Low added she would not comment on AAA’s response as she had not heard officially from them.

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