Coronavirus: Asean Para Games in Philippines postponed for second time

Travellers wearing protective face masks walk past a travel health advisory sign upon arrival at the international airport in Manila on Feb 5, 2020.
Travellers wearing protective face masks walk past a travel health advisory sign upon arrival at the international airport in Manila on Feb 5, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - The Asean Para Games (APG) in the Philippines has been postponed indefinitely in light of the coronavirus situation, said a statement issued by the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC) on Friday (Feb 14).

The Asean Para Sports Federation (APSF) and the APG's Philippines Local Organising Committee (LOC) had made the announcement to reschedule the event "in the interest and welfare of the physical and emotional wellbeing of all participating para athletes and athletic personnel", said the statement.

This was after the Philippine Sports Commission's (PSC) recommendation last Thursday to move the biennial Games to a later date.

This is the second time that the APG has been postponed, with organisers announcing last December that it would be moved from Jan 18-24 to March 20-28 due to the lack of funds to stage the event.

According to the statement, the APG should be held within the year.

While acknowledging the valid concerns raised by the LOC, SNPC chairman Kevin Wong expressed disappointment at the news. He said: "With the Paralympics in place, we are left with very limited time where we can slot in APG this year.

"Any further delay in organising the Games will definitely affect the sporting calendar and the next host city," added Wong, who is also president of the Singapore Disability Sports Council."

Singapore chef de mission for the APG Eric Tseng said he understood that the decision was not easy "given there were many factors ranging from the ongoing development of the COVID-19 and qualfications for the Tokyo Paralympics to financial impact and athletes' motivation and desires to compete", and stressed that the athletes will continue training.

While APG-bound bowler Mohamed Ismail Hussain is "downcast" about the postponement, he said that it is unavoidable.

The 36-year-old, who won a gold and bronze at the 2017 APG, added: "Bowling is a sport that isn't part of the Tokyo Paralympics line-up and for para bowlers, the APG is considered a major competition. (But) there's no reason to look back when there's so much to look forward to."


Paralympian thrower Muhammad Diroy Noordin, who is defending two APG silvers (javelin and shot put), said this will give them more time to train.

"I'm still vying for a spot in the Tokyo Paralympics but whether the APG happens before or after the Paralympics, I'm still going to work hard for both competitions," said the 27-year-old.

"I intend to maintain my progress so I can be at my best when the Games take place."

Meanwhile, the Singapore Swimming Association said on Friday that the National Swimming Championships will be held  from May 14-17, and the Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships will take place from June 5-7 (juniors) and June 23-28 (seniors). Both events were rescheduled due to the virus situation, and will be used as Olympic qualifying meets.