Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican’s proposal to extend the pension scheme to all athletes who qualify for the Olympics and not just for those who win medals at the quadrennial event has received mixed response from three sports bodies.
Paralympic Council of Malaysia (PCM) president Datuk Seri Megat D Shahriman feels that it should not just be extended to national athletes who qualified for the Olympics, but also to national para-athletes who have contributed medals at international Games.
“I’m not trying to brag or differentiate, but who has delivered the most medals and help to glorify the country? So, whether they are able-bodied athletes or para-athletes, I hope the government will not practice favouritism and I urge the government to consider this.
“We must look at the developed nations, there are no discrimination and no double standards,” he said.
Reezal Merican, when winding up the debate on the Supply Bill 2021 at the committee stage for the ministry at the Dewan Rakyat today, said the ministry would consider the suggestion for national athletes who qualify for the Olympics to be eligible for the pension scheme.
Meanwhile, Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tan Sri Norza Zakaria has described Reezal Merican’s proposal as a timely boost for national athletes chasing for a spot in the Olympic Games.
“The time has come for us to recognise and repay all those who sacrificed years of their life to qualify for the Olympic Games,” he said.
Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM) president Datuk Jasni Shafie echoed his sentiments, saying the proposal would motivate the athletes in their quest to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which has been postponed to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are athletes from several events who do not stand any chance of winning a medal due to the different nature of the competition and abilities.
“But the announcement by the Youth and Sports Minister will surely ignite the athletes’ determination to try and do their best, at least to get past the preliminary round,” he said.
Source: BERNAMA News Agency