Sukma postponed over Covid-19

KUALA LUMPUR, 26 March 2020:

This July’s Malaysia Games (Sukma) in Johor have been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican yesterday said the decision to postpone the Games to a date to be confirmed later was made at the Sukma Supreme Committee meeting, which was held via video conferencing.

He said in a statement the decision took into account the most important aspect – the health and safety of athletes, coaches, officials and everyone involved in the Games.

“The committee also agreed that the new dates will be decided at a meeting to be held in early May the latest. The majority agreed to two suggested dates, either in December or for the Games to be carried forward to 2021, depending on several factors.

“Among them are the constant monitoring of the latest Covid-19 development; making sure the dates do not clash with other important events like public examinations or major sports activities; as well as to scrutinise and take into account the interests of all Sukma 2020 stakeholders, especially that of host Johor.”

Almost 30,000 athletes, officials, media personnel and volunteers are expected to attend the Johor Sukma from July 11-19.

Reezal Merican said he has directed National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail, in cooperation with the Johor Sukma Secretariat, to conduct a comprehensive review by taking into account the feedback from all stakeholders.

The review should comprise all aspects of athlete qualification and preparation, implications on promotional activities, marketing, pre-Sukma programmes, sponsorship, branding, media coverage, logistics, facilities for specific sports events for it to be tabled at the next Sukma Supreme Committee meeting.

The 14-member committee comprises all 14 state Youth and Sports executive councillors, including the Johor exco as host; Youth and Sports Ministry secretary-general Dr Waitchalla RRV Suppiah; Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria; Ahmad Shapawi; National Sports Institute (NSI) chief executive officer Ahmad Faedzal Md Ramli; and the Johor Sukma Secretariat.

Reezal Merican also asked Waitchalla, as chairman of the Johor 2020 Para Sukma Supreme Committee to similarly postpone the Sukma Para Games scheduled for Aug 11-22.

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and Malaysian Football League (MFL) have agreed to extend the postponement of the Malaysia League (M-League) now that the Movement Control Order (MCO) has been extended until April 14.

FAM president Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin said in a statement the postponement, to a date to be set later, involved all FAM and MFL-run competitions and activities following the Covid-19 pandemic.

These included the Super League, Premier League, FA Cup, Malaysia Cup, Challenge Cup, Amateur Football League, President’s Cup, Youth Cup, M3 League and M4 League.

Hamidin, who is also MFL president, said both parties agreed to find amicable solutions for the affected parties due to the postponement, especially the clubs, players and officials.

He also expressed confidence that any issues related to the M-League postponement could be resolved with the cooperation of FAM, MFL, the Professional Footballers Association of Malaysia (PFAM), clubs, players and team officials.

Meanwhile, Hamidin also confirmed FAM and MFL have been notified of the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) decision to amend several important dates involving the national team as well as moving some Champions League matches from February and March to May and June.

– Bernama