Unfazed by the haze, Malaysians are finding new ways to indulge in their favourite pastime – playing sports.
In fact some of these sports are trending so rapidly that there are also plans to conduct annual Haze Games together with neighbours Indonesia and Singapore. Other countries may be invited, but only if their air quality hits an API of 200.
Hazeman Asep, the spokesman for the group looking to put together this event said that it would give everyone a glorious glimpse of the dystopian future of sports.
“Many of the events are variations of existing sports and we believe it would the next evolution of sports for the next generation,” said Hazeman.
While bids have come from several Malaysian cities affected by the smog, the organisers are leaning towards hosting the Games in Kuching.
“With the API hitting 270 in Kuching, it would be ideal to have the Games in the city,” said Hazeman.
He added that the idea to host the Games came from how the government started the Monsoon Cup during the monsoon season in Terengganu.
“We believe that we are assisting the sports tourism industry by taking advantage of this annual phenomenon no one claims responsibility,” continued Hazeman.
He also hoped that the Sports Commissioner’s Office would expedite their approval to host the Games, despite the short notice.
He added that they already have sponsors lined up including a leading manufacturer of the N95 masks. The organisers are also in final stages of discussion to bring in sponsorship from Malaysian owned plantations in Indonesia.
We take an exclusive look at some of the hazy sports that may feature at the inaugural Games being hastily arranged before the plantations in Indonesia decide to stop the open burning.
Sepak Bola Api (Fireball)
Sepak Bola Api, or Fireball Game, is a game from Indonesians play to welcome the month of Ramadan. It’s a lot like football only they have to kick a flaming fireball.
It’s usually celebrated in Yogyakarta, Bogor, Tasikmalaya, and Papua regions of the Southeastern Asia archipelago.
The event is a mix of marathon and orienteering. Runners have to complete a full marathon but will have to navigate using a compass and the description card. At each control point they would be allowed to use the oxygen inhalers prepared for them before moving on to the next control point.
Playing any sports underwater is a natural way to avoid the haze above.
And body contact sports is very popular in South East Asia, hence the decision to include Underwater Rugby.
The organisers have also been in touch with the international governing bodies for Underwater Hockey and Underwater Soccer to include all the two sports sa well at the Games.
How can there be a Haze Games without fire fighting. This sports is a combination of Paragliding and Firefighting.
Competitors would be required to para glide from a designated point to the selected venue (an open burning plantation) and put out the fire in an area not smaller than 10 meter square. The fastest to achieve this would be the winner.
Selections for the Haze Games 2019 is expected to start soon and the organisers are hoping to send the strongest team possible to ensure Malaysia tops the medal table, by hook or crook.
The organisers also confirmed that the medals for the event would be produced by compressing the ashes from the fires in Kalimantan.