Friday, July 15, 2016

Strong plea for joint Games fails

PASSION, compassion, commitment, ability, reducing costs, leaving a legacy, giving Para athletes a platform to be equals and all other reasoning failed to convince the SEA Games Federation (SEAGF) Council to agree to Malaysian Sea Games Organising Committee’s (MASOC) proposal to organise the 29th Sea Games and the 9th Asean Para Games jointly next year.
Even Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s passionate and sincere plea with all his well-presented reasoning in a final attempt yesterday morning at the SEAGF Council meeting, failed to reverse an earlier decision on Wednesday afternoon by the SEAGF executive committee meeting decision of a 10-1 vote against the joint hosting of the Games.
To Khairy’s credit, he was very passionate in his presentation and his plea drew admiration from the delegates but when it came to voting again for a final decision, the SEAGF Council voted 9-2 to see the SEA Games hosted separately.
It was indeed a noble idea to have both Games hosted simultaneously for the first time ever, but the SEAGF members were united in their stand that they were not prepared to share their identity with the Para Games.
Afterall, the SEAGF is 58 years old and after 28 Games, they were not prepared to share their platform with Asean Para Games who will be hosting their ninth edition.
The Para Games has been traditionally held after the SEA Games and besides both Games are governed by separate bodies.

There was no formal discussions held between Asean Para Sports Federation (APSF) with SEAGF and even a consensus within the APSF was not unanimous to host a joint Games, as eight agreed and three did not according to the MASOC presentation.

The Malaysian Paralympic Council (MPC) also did not engage the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) and it was no surprise that the SEAGF executive committee were caught off guard when MASOC made a presentation for a joint Games.

Some SEAGF members even complained that their respective Paralympic Councils in their country too had too not made any mention of their interest of a joint Games.

But in the end, it boiled down to SEAGF Exco questioning whether the interest of the athletes of both Games was sought.

The members expressed their apprehension that while the idea of joint Games was noble, the chances were that the Para Games athletes will be overshadowed by athletes of the SEA Games and would that augur well for the promotion of the latter.

Some members even had said that they gave their vote for Malaysia to host the Sea Games and if they had known then that Malaysia wanted to host the Paralympics together, they would not have given the nod.

Many said that it was not just about Malaysia but also the other nations who had several constraints over a joint Games.

In a nutshell, the SEAGF were concerned on impact of the joint Games and they stood together as a family to uphold their identity.

OCM president, Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja'afar’ who chaired the SEAGF Council said Khairy did very well to present the case but the SEAGF family as much as they were impressed and noted his passion, they had to make a decision with the SEA Games at heart.

Kudos for Khairy for making every effort to have the joint Games and standing in front of the SEAGF Council to make the plea, but a decision has been made and it is time to move on.

There were even news surfacing that Malaysia will go ahead to host the Games jointly with or without the blessing of the SEAGF, but it is heartening that common sense prevailed.

Probably the SEAGF decision is a blessing in disguise as Malaysia now host both the Games separately and make not one Game a huge success but both.

With just a year before Malaysia host sixth Games (after 1965, 1971, 1977, 1989 and 2001), after 16 years, it is hoped that all quarters now join hands and work hard to make a memorable affair for both Games.

TONY is a sports
journalist with more than
three decades of experience
and is passionate about
local sports.
He can be reached at
Twitter: @tmariadass​

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