Virus deals 2nd blow to Asean Para Games

Despite Games' further delay, S'pore chef de mission Tseng says athletes will continue training

The Asean Para Games (APG) in the Philippines has been postponed indefinitely in the light of the coronavirus situation, the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC) said in a statement yesterday.

The Asean Para Sports Federation and the Philippines Local Organising Committee (LOC) had to reschedule the Games "in the interest and welfare of the physical and emotional well-being of all participating para-athletes and athletic personnel", said the statement.

This was after the Philippine Sports Commission's recommendation last week to move the biennial Games to a later date.

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

According to the statement, the multi-sport event should be held within the year.

While acknowledging the valid concerns raised by the LOC, SNPC chairman Kevin Wong, who is also president of the Singapore Disability Sports Council, expressed disappointment at the news.

He said: "With the Paralympics in place, we are left with very limited time where we can slot in the APG this year. Any further delay in organising the Games will definitely affect the sporting calendar and the next host city."

Singapore's chef de mission for the Games 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 qualifications for the Tokyo Paralympics to financial impact and athletes' motivation and desires to compete", and stressed that the athletes will continue training.

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

The 36-year-old, who won a gold and bronze in Kuala Lumpur in 2017, added: "Bowling... 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."

LIMITED WINDOW

With the Paralympics in place, we are left with very limited time where we can slot in the APG this year.

KEVIN WONG , Singapore National Paralympic Council chairman, while acknowledging the valid concerns raised by the LOC, was disappointed at the news.

POSITIVE THINKING

The APG is considered a major competition. (But) there's no reason to look back when there's so much to look forward to.

ISMAIL HUSSAIN , APG-bound para-bowler, looking at the bright side.

Paralympian thrower Diroy Noordin, who had two silvers (javelin and shot put) in 2017, said the further delay 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."

Separately, the Singapore Swimming Association said yesterday that the national championships will be from May 14-17, and the national age-group championships from June 5-7 (juniors) and June 23-28 (seniors). Both events were rescheduled owing to the virus situation, and will be used as Olympic qualifying meets.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2020, with the headline 'Virus deals 2nd blow to Asean Para Games'. Print Edition | Subscribe