KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) has received the ‘green light’ for the national senior squad to begin training on Tuesday (April 27) if not further COVID-19 cases were reported at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM).
Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said there was no problem in resuming training if the situation was safe and all individuals tested negative.
He said all 14 players who tested positive at ABM were sent to the COVID-19 Low-Risk Quarantine and Treatment Centre at the Malaysia Agricultural Expo Park Serdang (MAEPS), with four of them allowed to return home today.
Today the swab test will be done for all of them (more than 90 people), if it’s clear, we will start training again because in the latest episode of infections, only the back-up players were affected. I wish to inform you that most of the transmissions among these athletes are from outside (ABM).
“KBS is working closely with BAM, and the action taken is in line with what was discussed with the National Sports Council (MSN) and the National Sports Institute (ISN),” he told reporters after launching the e-Sports training facility at Casa 1, MSN, in Bukit Jalil today.
Six players at ABM were confirmed positive for COVID-19 on April 17, and BAM yesterday (April 23) confirmed that eight more back-up players tested positive for the virus in a test conducted on April 20.
The national badminton squad, which stopped training last week, will have to resume preparations for the Tokyo Olympics scheduled in July, as well as other tournaments which contribute points towards qualifying for the Games, namely the Malaysian Open from May 25-30 and the Singapore Open (June 1-6).
Meanwhile, Reezal Merican said the ministry would thoroughly assess the suitability and need to reimplement the quarantine-based training approach for all national athletes to avoid interruptions to training sessions.
Commenting on the declaration of emergency in the provinces of Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo beginning tomorrow until May 11 due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in Japan, Reezal Merican said it was too early to make any decision on the participation of the national contingent at the Olympics.
He stressed that the preparations for the world’s biggest sporting event would continue as it was important not to dampen the spirits of the athletes, however, the ministry would continue to monitor the latest developments until July.
He also urged the MSN and Malaysia Swimming to take precautionary measures to ensure the safety of athletes and officials when participating in the Diving World Cup in Tokyo from May 1 to 6.
“Their purpose of going (to Tokyo) is to qualify for the Olympics (as it’s the final qualifying tournament), especially for former world champion Cheong Jun Hoong. There will definitely be local protocols there such as sports bubbles and swab tests,” he said.