KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 8 — A huge number of sporting events and the brotherhood among Asean members are the reason Malaysia would be sending a large contingent to the 2019 SEA Games, said Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria.
According to the latest information, Malaysia will send a contingent of 1,063 to participate in 52 sports in the Philippines, comprising 786 athletes — 380 under Category A (217 men and 163 women) and 406 under Category B (243 men and 163 women) — and 277 officials.
Malaysia’s contingent to the 2007 Korat SEA Games was the biggest ever recorded outside of Malaysia with 1,114 participants, while at the 2017 edition in Kuala Lumpur the country fielded 1,234 participants.
Asked about the justification for sending a large contingent, Mohamad Norza noted that the SEA Games was focused on the development of young athletes, in contrast to other games such as the Asian and Commonwealth Games as well as the Olympics, which are geared towards performance and medal collection.
“Firstly, if we look at the average number of sports in previous editions, it was about 39 to 42 but the Philippines offers 56 sports and we will participate in 52 sports.
“Secondly, when it comes to SEA Games, it is a sport of development and friendship, which is the first entry for us to introduce our young athletes and to develop the sport,” he told a press conference after the OCM Executive Board meeting at Wisma OCM here today.
Mohamad Norza added that he also wanted to provide opportunities and exposure to new or unfamiliar sports like underwater hockey, sambo, kurash and ballroom dancing by placing them in Category B2.
Athletes under Category A will be fully funded by OCM, while for Category B1 will be a sports association affiliated with OCM, where the association will have to foot its own bill and if the athlete wins a medal, the participation expenses will be reimbursed.
“For the Category B2, it is for associations that are not our affiliates and if they win medals, they cannot claim back from us. That’s why our contingent numbers are increasing.
“When I asked my counterparts in the Philippines, they noted that they received almost equal participation from other countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore,” he said.
Mohamad Norza said there was likely no major change in the size of the contingent, although the Philippines SEA Games Organising Committee (PHISGOC) had extended the athlete registration deadline to Oct 17 although it should have closed yesterday.
Meanwhile, he noted that the draws for 10 team sports, namely badminton, beach handball, football, floorball, indoor hockey, water hockey, sepak takraw, traditional boat racing, volleyball and water polo, will be held next Tuesday in Manila.
He also confirmed that all sports associations under Category B had paid 50 per cent of the advance payment to OCM.
The overall medal target is expected to be announced by Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman after the athletes’ final training camp ends on November 21 and when all sports associations have finalised their respective medals targets. — Bernama