MASUM Withdraws from Universiade due to Influenza A Outbreak

>> August 08, 2009

There are thousands of confirmed deaths of the Influenza A H1N1 around Europe. There was also a widespread belief that participation in the World University Games (25th Universiade) in Belgrade, Serbia last month (1-12 July) would expose athletes and officials with the risks of infection. As a result, Team Malaysia opted to pull out from the biannual multisports event.

It's a great deal for me as my first chance of competing in the major sporting event - my first one in such a global meet - had been demolished by that decision. This news was known to me right when I turn on my TV after coming back from training. The headline reads "...MASUM withdraws from Universiade due to Influenza A outbreak..." Oh wow, hmm? was my first reaction. I was a bit upset and straightaway had a phone call with the guys in-charge, and no one knows about it! I was about to prepare to collect by team attire. It was just one day before a one-week final centralised training. I would have competed in the men's 100m and 4x100m.

Now we know that the Universiade was held successfully. As far as I know, no cases related to H1N1 were reported by the media in athletes or officials during the games. There were over 6000 athletes taking part in 15 sports, who represented at least >140 nations. Team Malaysia was scheduled to send a strong contingent of >30 athletes. The next edition is scheduled in 2011 at Shenzhen, China.

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 (Bernama)-- The Malaysian Universities Sports Council (MASUM) has decided to withdraw from the World University Games (Universiade) in Belgrade, Serbia next month, following a directive from the Higher Education Ministry.

According to the Higher Education Ministry's Sports Division secretary Dr Shaharudin Ismail, the directive was issued to MASUM so as avoid any risk of the Influenza A(H1NI) outbreak.

Dr Shaharudin said the directive was in line with advise from the Health Ministry, National Sports Institute and National Sports Council to prevent athletes from the risk of being infected by the disease.

"Although Serbia is free from H1N1, the risk of infection remains high as the Universiade will see participation from all over the world and athletes will be exposed to infection," he told Bernama when contacted here today.
He added that MASUM would do the necessary procedures for the withdrawal and hoped the organisers of the Universiade would understand the reason for the withdrawal.

An earlier article in the newspaper...

The Universiade is an International multi-sport event, organised for university athletes by the International University Sports Federation (FISU) every two years and would feature university students from all over the world from July 1-12.

MASUM was expected to send 30 athletes to Belgrade in batches on June 24, June 28 and July 1 while selected athletes were supposed to check into the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) campus on June 20, for centralised training.

Yesterday, the National Sports Institute had also advised national sports associations against competing overseas after the World Health Organisation (WHO) raised the pandemic alert for Influenza A(H1N1) from level 5 to 6.

Source: Bernama

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