BIRMINGHAM: The visa approval status of two national gymnastics coaches, who are Russian citizens, for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games is now in question.
Without mentioning the names of the coaches involved, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said that both of them would be affected following the entry restrictions imposed by the United Kingdom (UK) government on Russian citizens due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“The management of the Malaysian contingent has fulfilled all the registration processes as stipulated by the organisers and has even submitted a letter of appeal to the president of the CGF (Commonwealth Sports Federation) to help speed up the approval of their visas.
“However, the response received from the CGF regarding the visa status of the two national gymnastics coaches was that they were also still waiting for the UK Visa and Immigration decision,” he told reporters here Wedneday (July 27).
Ahmad Faizal said this after a meeting with the national seven-a-side rugby, judo and triathlon squads at the Games Village at the University of Warwick, about half an hour’s drive from the city centre.
He said, according to feedback from the CGF, the ban also involves all Russian citizens who represent other countries at the quadrennial Games.
Therefore, he said if the appeal was not successful, then the Honorary Secretary of the Malaysian Gymnastics Federation Afrita Ariany Nasril and local coach Lim Win Chean will be flown to Birmingham on Friday (July 29) to manage the national gymnastics team throughout the Games.
Ahmad Faizal said that the gymnastics squad consisting of Koi Sie Yan, Ng Joe Ee and Izzah Amzan are also scheduled to arrive tomorrow from Minsk, Belarus, after undergoing intensive training there.
The national gymnastics squad will begin action on Aug 4 at the Birmingham Arena.
In the meantime, Ahmad Faizal said he was confident that the cold weather here would not affect the performance of the 104 athletes who will carry Malaysia’s challenge in the Games which officially opens from 7pm Thursday (2am Friday Malaysian time).
Meanwhile, Ahmad Faizal, who attended the 10th Commonwealth Sports Ministers Meeting here on Wednesday, said Malaysia had stated the initiatives taken by the government in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
He added that among the initiatives were the launch of the Women in Sports Action Plan with an allocation of RM10mil, the organisation of the Para Esports League as well as the preparation of the National Sports Vision 2030 to drive the development of national sports for the next 10 years. – Bernama