Coronavirus: Asean Para Games in the Philippines postponed to Oct 3-9

City workers wearing protective suits disinfect a street, as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus, in Manila, on March 19, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - The Asean Para Games (APG) in the Philippines has been rescheduled to Oct 3-9 this year, the Asean Para Sports Federation (APSF) Board of Governors announced on Thursday (March 19) after a two-hour emergency video conference meeting.

The Federation's highest decision-making authority had convened to decide on the status of the APG and approve the new dates.

The biennial Games, which was initially scheduled for Jan 18-24, were first moved to March 21-27 owing to the lack of funds to stage the event. Last month, the APSF and the Philippines Local Organising Committee announced that the multi-sport event would be postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus situation.

The Covid-19 disease has infected 218,000 people worldwide and killed 8,952, with hosts the Philippines seeing 202 cases and 17 deaths as of yesterday.

Presidents and members of the National Paralympic Committees of Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam participated in the video conference. The parties involved agreed to move the Games to the new dates in October, "with conditions that the Covid-19 pandemic is contained and no longer a threat", said the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC) in a press release on Thursday. The board will convene at the end of July to assess the situation before confirming and proceeding with the October Games.

With the APG seeing two postponements this year, Kevin Wong, Chairman of the SNPC and Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) said that the situation is "still a major concern" and that the focus of the SNPC and SDSC is on their athletes' well-being.

Eric Tseng, Chef De Mission to the Singapore contingent stressed that the top priority for the teams and athletes is to "adhere to the Ministry of Health's recommendations of social distancing, avoiding unnecessary travel and practising clean hygiene at all times".

He added: "The Covid-19 situation is extremely fluid on a day-by-day basis and short-term developments continue to be unpredictable, so any long-term plans will remain under review for the time-being."

National para swimmer, Toh Wei Soong, who has won five golds at the APG, is unfazed by the prospect of competing back-to-back at the Aug 26-Sept 6 Tokyo Paralympic Games and APG in October.

"It does mean that I can't rest as much after the competition in Tokyo, but I don't mind," he said. "APG is a major Games and it is an honour for me to race and represent the country. I look forward to racing at APG, whether it's in October or any other time."

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

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