Malaysian athletes and officials professionalism when representing the nation has been questioned this time around by a sponsor - Bata.
Bata sponsors to a tune of RM 1 million for national athletes and officials at the Sea, Asian, Commonwealth and Olympic Games.
They provide leather shoes for the march-past of the opening ceremony and specially designed sports shoes to be used when they are out of competition eg Games Village or travelling.
Datuk James Selvaraj, the Senior Manager of Bata Marketing Sdn Bhd said that the contract of the sponsorship clearly stipulates that athletes and officials must use the leather shoes for the march past and training shoes at times when they are out of competition.
"But this arrangement has not been met most of the time and it was clearly evident in ongoing New Delhi Commonwealth Games," James told this scribe.
James said that the officials themselves have not adhered to the requirements.
It is little wonder that sponsors these days shun away from getting involved in sports sponsorship because more often than not, their obligations through the sponsorship are not fullfilled.
Sponsors spend millions of ringgit on sponsorship basically to get mileage through their branding besides tax exemptions.
This is where our officials and athletes have to act professionally and not just collect sponsorship goods and then not use it.
Bata's sponsorship is through the Olympic Council of Malaysia and the latter certainly needs to enforce stricter monitoring of sponsored goods being utilised as stipulated by the contract.
Of course athletes and associations have their own sponsors and obligations to meet. But when going for a Games, it is the OCM who takes charges and they too have their obligations to meet.
Like Bata, most of the sponsors are flexible as long as their products are used during stipulated times.
But if their sponsored goods are not used at all, the sponsors certainly have a case and reason to be upset.
It all boils down to professionalism. Just like in the case of weightlifter Aricco Jumitih's attire bore the Sabah flag instead of the Malaysian flag and had the words Sabah written behind his attire instead of MALAYSIA!