18 Mar, 2016
Putrajaya, Malaysia, 16 March 2016, (Bernama) – In a bold move to set the standard in world sports, the Paralympic Council of Malaysia has proposed that the 29th SEA Games and the 9th ASEAN Para Games, slated to be held in August 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, be combined into one integrated medal event for all sports – ‘The 2017 ASEAN Games’.
MPC represented by President Mr. SM Nasarudin, Deputy President Mr. Ng Keng Chuan and Vice-President Mr. Jason Lo submitted this recommendation formally to the Minister of Youth and Sports YB Khairy Jamaluddin today for consideration.
“This would mean that both able-bodied and para athletes would compete in their respective sporting events at the same time, resulting in a truly unified ASEAN Games experience.” explained Nasarudin.
The previous set of games held in Singapore in 2015 saw 11 countries competing in The 28th SEA Games – featuring 4,370 athletes competing in 402 games from 36 sports over 12 days. This was held several months apart from The 8th ASEAN Para Games, which featured 1,185 athletes in 476 Games from 15 Sports in 7 days.
While there will no doubt be an increase in logistical and timing hurdles to overcome, there are several advantages of combining the games which far outweigh the extra effort to establish a truly ground-breaking initiative. The contribution towards nation building in raising the profile, educating the public and exposing sporting icons to different communities will have a higher reach as the leverage across media coverage would increase overall ratings with a more unified focus.
With scaling the events into one, there would be timing and cost savings as well as greater use of more stadiums and venues across the board, resulting in a stronger and more substantial sporting ‘footprint’ or benchmark for others to follow.
In comparison, the 2014 Commonwealth Games, held in Glasgow, Scotland was highly praised for including 22 Para Sport Medal events into the program. The economic value the games brought to Scotland being an estimated £740 million pounds with extensive reach on social media and the creation of thousands of jobs. A series of programs stemming from the games continue to this day, known as ‘Legacy 2014’, which cover outcome indicators in various industries such as tourism and leisure as well as sustainable programs in development and research in such areas as Health and Education.
“If we could imagine the highest rated event, the Men’s 100m Sprint finals, being preceded by the Women’s Blind and Visually impaired 200m sprint, we would have achieved something incredible for the athletes, to run in front of a packed stadium, for the spectators to feel excitement of cheering on those they may not have been aware of before and for the rakyat as a whole, who will look upon the para sport contestants as Extraordinary National Athletes representing the nation and carrying all our hopes and dreams. As equal and deserving of our support as much as any other National Athlete who dons the National Colors.” said Lo.
The President of the International Paralympic Committee, Sir Philip Craven had reconsidered his stance on the possibility of combining the Olympics and Paralympics (the first and second largest sporting events in the world), into one Mega Event, which could be a consideration after 2020.
The Paralympic Council of Malaysia agrees that is where the future is heading, however wishes to make the principle clear that this is in the best interest of the athletes and sports development as a whole.