KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has expressed hope to hear the national anthem Negaraku to be played and the Jalur Gemilang (Malaysian flag) to be hoisted as many times as possible at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
He said he believed that with strong determination and all the training that had been done, there was no reason Malaysian Paralympic athletes could not shine at the prestigious Paralympics.
“The country is counting on you (athletes). In Rio 2016 (Paralympic Games), we bagged three gold medals and one bronze. That means the Negaraku was played three times in Rio.
“If possible, I wish to see the Malaysian flag be hoisted and to hear Negaraku be played as many times as possible in Tokyo,” he said during a virtual pep talk with Malaysian Paralympic athletes today.
Meanwhile, Ismail Sabri also shared with the athletes the idea behind the establishment of the Malaysia Paralympic Sports Excellence Centre (MPSEC) in Kampung Pandan here, which was mooted during his tenure as the then minister of youth and sports.
He said at that time the ministry was deluged with complaints from Paralympic athletes about the shortage of access to high-level facilities on par with those made available for normal athletes.
The prime minister said a trip to China to check on the Malaysian contingent at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games had given him the opportunity to see for himself the effectiveness of the paralympic sports centre there and came back with the idea to create similar facilities here.
“I visited the centre in Beijing...it was very good, so we proposed for a similar centre to be opened here in Malaysia,” he said.
The RM50 million centre was built in 2011 on a 1.84-hectare site in Kampung Pandan and had been operational since 2013 to enable Paralympic athletes to train and prepare themselves to compete in national and international sporting events.
Ismail Sabri also hoped that all athletes would take care of themselves, maintain discipline and comply with all the standard operating procedures set by the Japanese government to avoid Covid-19 infection.
For the 2020 edition of the Paralympic Games, Malaysia is represented by 22 athletes who will be competing in nine types of sports involving a total of 32 events. — Bernama