The Philippines Paralympic Council (PPC) has decided to defer the ASEA Para Games (APG) for the second time.
The APG was originally postponed from January to March 20-28, due to financial and logistical constraints. And this time the PPC wants to postpone the Games due to the coronavirus epidemic.
PPC president Michael Barredo and the Philippines Sports Council (PSC) chairman William “Butch” Ramirez are currently in Thailand to brief the ASEAN Paralympic Federation of its plan to postpone the Games.
The ASEAN body can either accept the postponement or decide to cancel the event altogether or look to find a new host for the APG.
Paralympic Council of Malaysia (PCM) president Datuk Seri Megat D. Shariman Zaharudin said that they are awaiting for an official confirmation before taking the next step.
“We made more than 10 phone calls to the Philippines for clarification, but have not been able to get any feedback as yet,” said Megat.
He added that Malaysia’s participation at the Games on any new date would only be made in consideration on how it affects the athletes’ representation at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“We hope to get an official statement from Philippines and would discuss the matter at our council meeting early next week before further discussions with the other stakeholders including the National Sports Council (NSC),” said Megat.
Sources say that the APG has not been able to sort out the financial support from the government mainly due to the lukewarm relationship between the organizing committee and the government.
The Manila SEA Games itself was engulfed in financial controversy with questions raised on the ballooning costs and questionable contracts awarded.
Another major concern as to how the Games can be held as per schedule in March, was the fact that the Games village is also currently being used as the coronavirus detection center.
It is highly unlikely that the village would be ready for use for the Games. To expect athletes to use the same facilities without proper cleanup from any contamination would be also give rise to sever criticism. Even if a thorough cleanup is done, it is not going to create any confidence with the athletes themselves.
The PPC wants to reschedule the Games to either May or June. The proposed dates would definitely affect the preparation for the Tokyo Paralympics and the athletes’ participation in other international events. The APG does not offer any ranking points for athletes.
Megat said that ideally any postponement should take consideration of the Paralympics.
“The Paralympics is important for us and if the new dates are after the Paralympics, perhaps in November, it would be better,” added Megat.