KUCHING, Jan 31 — The Sarawak government has every right to demand compensation from Putrajaya for the cancellation of the World 2019 Para Swimming Championships here, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing said today.
“We have very good reason to ask for compensation for money already spent in preparation for the championships,” he told Malay Mail.
Masing, who is also Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president, believed that the state government has spent a substantial amount of money in preparation for the championships which were scheduled to be held at the Pandelela Rinong Aquatic Centre from July 29 to August 4 this year.
He said Putrajaya should have consulted the state government before making a decision to deny entry to the Israeli athletes.
Malay Mail is waiting for a response from state Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Karim Rahman Hamzah on the estimated amount of money already spent in preparation for the championships.
Earlier, Malaysian Association of Hotels Sarawak chapter secretary-general John Teo said local businesses were expected to suffer losses of at least RM5 million due to the cancellation.
Teo was quoted in Chinese vernacular paper Sin Chew Daily as giving a conservative estimate of at least RM1.5 million in losses to the hotel industry in Sarawak after the event was called off.
On January 27, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) stripped Malaysia of the right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships due to Putrajaya’s ban on Israeli athletes.
Expressing its disappointment and stating that “politics and sports are never a good mix”, the IPC said it had no choice but to seek new hosts when a host country excludes athletes from a country due to “political reasons”.
The IPC said it will be looking for a new host country for the World Para Swimming Championships, which it said is a “vital” event as it acts as a qualifier to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Karim, in an immediate response to the cancellation, had expressed sadness but accepted it with an open heart.
As of January 26, he said 64 countries had confirmed their participation involving 1,678 athletes and officials.
He said flights to Kuching had been increased and a lot of effort had been made to make the international meet a successful one.