10th ASEAN Para Games postponed anew due to COVID-19 threat

Singapore, 11 February 2020 – The 10th edition of ASEAN Para Games (APG) saw another unforeseen postponement after the supposed commencement in March. The ASEAN Para Sports Federation (APSF) and the Philippine Local Organising Committee (LOC) of APG has regrettably announced that in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic in the global and ASEAN regions and in the interest and welfares for the physical and emotional wellbeing of all participating Para athletes and athletic personnel, APG will be deferred to a date indefinitely determined.

The announcement was also made with reference to the recent meeting between Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC) President Mr Michael Barredo and the APSF President where they discussed that once the COVID-19 is effectively controlled, the games hosted by the Philippines should be held within the year 2020 with the Philippines to notify APSF at least 60 days before the games to provide the time for APSF Coordination Committee to inspect the facilities and host’s readiness.

It was the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), the funding committee, that first recommended to postpone APG amidst the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 in the Philippines and the rising number of infected cases in the region.

“In the interest of public health, safety and security, we write to respectfully inform you of the Board’s decision to strongly recommend the indefinite postponement of the 2020 ASEAN Para Games, given the risks present by this COVID-19 health crisis,” PSC Chairman, Mr William Ramirez said.

In the official statement released by APSF, the Board of Governor Meeting will be convened soon to discuss APSF strategic plan and reschedule on the games.

Mr Kevin Wong, Chairman of the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC), expressed his thoughts on the announcement. 

“It is a little disappointing that the Games are being cancelled again as it’s such a busy year. With the Paralympics in place, we are left with very limited time where we can slot in APG this year. Any further delay in organising the Games will definitely affect the sporting calendar and the next host city.”

He shared, “However, given the circumstances, the concerns raised by the organising committee were valid. Of course, the health and safety of the Para athletes and staff who are participating in APG is of utmost priority.

APSF has sought majority of the ASEAN countries’ recommendation and proposed solutions for the said matter as well. And whilst we await further news, we will continue our efforts to remain positive and support our athletes in their athletic journey regardless whether the ASEAN Para Games is happening this year or not,” Mr Wong added.

Albeit the disappointment, Mr Eric Tseng, Chef De Mission to the Singapore contingent saw this news in a positive light.

He stated, “We understand the decision was not an easy one given there were many factors ranging from the ongoing development of the COVID-19 and qualifications for the Summer Tokyo Paralympics to financial impacts and athlete’s motivation and desires to compete.”

Mr Tseng further expressed his support for this decision, “It only shows that the top priority of all parties involved is to mitigate risk of COVID-19 on the health and wellbeing of ALL individuals including athletes, team officials, event staff, volunteers and spectators at the APG.”

“While some may view the APG to be an unlucky event given the second postponement within months, I personally feel otherwise. In January, Taal Volcano erupted two days before Team Singapore was scheduled to fly to Manila. As for this second postponement, I can just imagine the stress and difficulty we would have to deal with if COVID-19 occurred and escalated just before or during the Games,” Mr Tseng added.

As for the next steps to be taken by Team Singapore, he continued, “Though APG is a non-sanctioned event and doesn’t really affect athletes vying for a spot in the Paralympics, training is still ongoing. Given the COVID-19 situation, I am immensely proud of our coaches, team managers and athletes for quickly applying and adapting to the Ministry of Health’s recommendations. I heard teams are revising their training plans based on the suggested health control measures. The fact that this situation hasn’t dampen their mood and stop them from training, speaks a lot about their passion for the sport and love for what they do.”

Same sentiments were echoed by the athletes going for APG. Para bowler Mohamed Ismail Hussain said, “As this is the second time APG had to be postponed, I feel downcast. However, I understand that this time, the postponement is unavoidable due to the Coronavirus situation. Bowling is a sport that isn’t part of the Tokyo Paralympics line-up, and for Para bowlers, APG is considered a major competition so the postponement doesn’t affect my decision to participate in APG. Yes, I will still go. There’s no reason to look back when there’s so much to look forward to.”

Para shot-putter Muhammad Diroy Noordin agreed, “The upside of the Games being postponed is that we athletes have more time to train. I’m still vying for a spot in the Tokyo Paralympics 2020 but whether APG happens before or after Paralympics, I’m still going to work hard for both competitions. Training still goes on as per usual despite the postponement and I intend to maintain my progress so that I can be at my best when the games take place.”

For this edition of the Games, three designated hubs, namely Manila, Clark and Subic, will serve as hosts for 17 sports: Archery, Badminton, Boccia, Chess, Cycling, CP (cerebral palsy) Football, Goalball, Judo, Para Athletics, Para Powerlifting, Para Swimming, Para Triathlon, Table Tennis, Tenpin Bowling, Sitting Volleyball, Wheelchair Basketball and Para Obstacle Course Racing (demo sport).