Youth and Sports Ministry allocates RM22.5m in final push for glory at Tokyo Olympics

Syed Saddiq said the allocation would be used for the preparation of athletes who have qualified on merit and potential qualifiers for the world’s biggest sporting event, scheduled for July 24 to August 9. — Bernama pic
Syed Saddiq said the allocation would be used for the preparation of athletes who have qualified on merit and potential qualifiers for the world’s biggest sporting event, scheduled for July 24 to August 9. — Bernama pic

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 20 ― The Ministry of Youth and Sports has allocated RM22.5 million for the final stages of preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where the country’s athletes will hunt for its first ever gold at the Games.

Its minister, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, said the allocation would be used for the preparation of athletes who have qualified on merit and potential qualifiers for the world’s biggest sporting event, scheduled for July 24 to August 9.

Of this amount, the biggest allocation of nearly RM8.4 million went to cycling, followed by badminton (RM6.5 million), diving (RM2.3 million), sailing (almost RM2 million), and the rest to gymnastics, karate, swimming and golf.

So far 10 athletes from four sports ― diving, sailing, archery and gymnastics ― have qualified while another 25 athletes are expected to qualify before the end of the qualifying period in their respective sports.

“We have met with the association representatives three times to fine-tune and finalise this funding. The RM22.5 million is the overall fund from January to August this year for the Road to Tokyo (RTT) Programme.

“If we need additional funding for the final push as we get closer to the Games, we will fine-tune that. We will try to help our athletes in whatever capacity possible through the ministries and associations to end our decades-long wait for Olympic gold.

“At the same time, we need to give athletes space and opportunity to focus on that. We do not want to put pressure on them,” he said after chairing the RTT Programme Steering Committee meeting at the ministry here today.

The 10 athletes who have qualified for the Olympics are Pandelela Rinong, Wendy Ng Yan Yee, Leong Mun Yee, Nur Dhabitah Sabri (divers) Khairulnizam Mohd Affendy, Nur Shazrin Mohd Latif, Nuraisyah Jamil and Juni Karimah Noor Jamali (sailing), Farah Ann Abdul Hadi (gymnastics) and Khairul Anuar Mohamad (archery).

Athletes who are still striving to qualify but whose sports are not listed in the RTT are placed under the Podium Programme 2022 (Asian Games preparation, Commonwealth 2022), and if eligible, they will be included in the RTT.

In the 2016 Rio Olympics, Malaysia were represented by 32 athletes who brought home four silvers and a bronze, the country's best achievement ever but the gold remained elusive.

Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria described the ministry’s move as a responsible and pragmatic effort.

“When it comes to setting targets, all Malaysians have been waiting for years to see us get the elusive gold medal. We hope and pray that these athletes will be able to raise the country's pride on the Olympic stage anytime soon,” he said. ― Bernama

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