By Devinder Singh
(Note: This is the first time OCM has done this to hockey in the Asian Games)
MEN’s hockey may earn a reprieve should the Olympic Council of Malaysia’s (OCM) selection committee reverse its decision to place the sport under Category B for the Incheon Asian Games.
Along with all team sports who have been approved for Incheon, the Malaysian Hockey Confederation would have had to foot the bill to send the men’s hockey squad to the Asian Games.
However, hours after the OCM selection committee made its decision on Wednesday, MHC submitted an appeal to be allowed to travel under Category A.
OCM president Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’aafar said men’s hockey would likely be allowed to travel under Category A, subject to the outcome of a postal ballot of the selection committee members.
“We took a look at their performance at the Commonwealth Games and other tournaments in coming to a decision to put them in Category B. They have been abysmal, put it that way, and they put in an appeal last night (Wednesday),” said Tunku Imran yesterday.
“A point the selection committee may have missed out is the fact that they were silver medalists last time (in 2010). We are sending a postal ballot (to the members) to decide on any changes.
“Category B, honestly, is only for them to pay in advance and if they get to the semi-finals, they would be reimbursed completely. They have to accept that they have performed abysmally.”
The national hockey team have been in turmoil following their poor performance at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games which follows hard on the heels of the World Cup debacle, where they lost all their matches for the first time in history.
National coach K. Dharmaraj was this week relieved of his duties amidst claims of a players’ revolt while juniors coach A. Arul Selvaraj was installed in the hot seat.
Tunku Imran left out little hope for other team sports including football of being included in Category A though women’s rugby have made an appeal on the basis that they stand to lose an International Rugby Board grant if they do not play in Incheon.
“Football has always been in Category B and we can’t really say that they are up there,” added Tunku Imran. “They are no longer kings of Southeast Asia and if they had won the Sea Games gold then it would have been a different matter.”
The FA of Malaysia would only be reimbursed if the men’s Under-23 team reach the quarter-finals and the same goes for men’s cricket.
Kabaddi, men’s rugby, women’s cricket, women’s badminton and beach volleyball would have to reach the semi-finals of their respective events to get their money back.
OCM have identified diving, track cycling, bowling, karate, squash, sailing and wushu as medal contributors among the 24 sports Malaysia will take part in Incheon.