Following the National Sports Council’s (NSC) decision to restrict travel for national athletes due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) have decided to withdraw their players from two tournaments next month.
On Wednesday, the NSC warned all national sports associations not to send their athletes to five coronavirus-stricken countries — China, South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy.
And after further discussions with the council, SRAM have withdrawn their players from the CAS International (April 3-7) in Pakistan and the SRFI Indian Tour (April 26-29) in India.
Although Pakistan and India are not on NSC’s travel restriction list, the council were not keen on exposing SRAM’s players to the risk since squash is not an Olympic sport nor is it an Asian Games and Commonwealth Games year.
“During the meeting with NSC, we were told not to send our players to the five mentioned countries while athletes from those countries were also barred from entering Malaysia as well,” said SRAM director Mejar (rtd) S. Maniam.
“I also brought up the possibility of our players competing in Pakistan and India but the NSC were not very supportive of the idea. That is why I decided to pull out our players from both tournaments.
“Of course, it is not very ideal as the calendar is already badly affected by several events getting called off. This news will surely demoralise the players even further, and I’ll have to find ways to keep the players motivated during training,” added Maniam.
It is certainly a huge blow for the national players who are already lacking tournaments as several events in Asia have been called off.
Among the postponed tournaments are the Asian Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur and the Asian Junior Championships in China.
Meanwhile, women’s national No 2 Rachel Arnold is not affected by NSC’s move as she is already in Cairo for the Black Ball Open.
The World No 42 takes on World No 23 Zeina Mickawy of Egypt in the first round tomorrow.