Asean Para Games set to be delayed again

Second postponement by the Philippines likely, as coronavirus outbreak worsens across region

An isolation tent for patients with symptoms that could be investigated for coronavirus, at the Quezon City General Hospital in the Philippines.
An isolation tent for patients with symptoms that could be investigated for coronavirus, at the Quezon City General Hospital in the Philippines.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The Asean Para Games (APG) in the Philippines are set to be postponed a second time, as the host nation deals with the coronavirus outbreak that has already claimed one life in the country.

The Philippine Sports Commission last Thursday made the recommendation for the Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC) to move the biennial Games to a later date.

Originally scheduled from Jan 18-24, the APG were moved to March 20-28 after the PSC admitted it did not have enough funds to stage the event.

News portal Philstar quoted PPC president Michael Barredo as saying he hopes the event could take place in "May or June".

Singapore National Paralympic Council president Kevin Wong, who is overseas, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

National para-table tennis player Claire Toh said she and other Singapore athletes were informed by the authorities last Monday that the APG would proceed in March.

But, she told The Sunday Times, a postponement is likely given the virus' continued spread across the region, with at least 13 Asian countries reporting confirmed cases.

The Philippine government has already banned all visitors from China, Hong Kong and Macau due to the outbreak.

Last Friday, Singapore's disease outbreak response was stepped up one level to orange.

This led to a suspension of training for para-athletes, said Toh, 26.

She had won a silver in the women's singles Class 2 event at the Bangkok Open last August and finished fourth at the China Open two months later.

 
 
 

She needs to compete at the APG to fulfil the nomination criteria required for the Aug 25-Sept 6 Paralympics in Tokyo.

The qualifying window for the Paralympics closes next month and a new postponement of the APG would complicate matters further for Toh.

"It would be definitely disappointing," she said. "If it doesn't happen, there's not much we (as athletes) can do but wait another four years (for the next Paralympics)."

At the last APG in 2017, the Republic returned from Malaysia with 10 gold, 18 silver and 24 bronze medals.

The coronavirus has led the Philippines to cancel several sports events, including the Feb 27-28 National Sports Summit and the Philippine National Games in May.

Major sporting events across Asia have also been affected. The World Athletics Indoor Championships, originally to be held in Nanjing from March 13 to 15, were postponed until next year.

The Chinese Super League football tournament's new season has been suspended indefinitely.

Vietnam's government has said it would not allow the country to host sports events this month.

In Singapore, the ongoing National School Games have been suspended until the end of the March school holidays, while the Singapore Sports Hub has cancelled several events.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 09, 2020, with the headline 'Asean Para Games set to be delayed again'. Print Edition | Subscribe