Issue of bringing ‘excitement’ does not exist in gymnastics: MSN DG

04 Sep 2019 / 21:06 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The definition of ‘excite’ has never existed in gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics and should not be the basis in sports development policy, said National Sports Council (MSN) director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail.

He said the Terengganu government’s concern over the attire of women gymnasts had jeopardised the future of female athletes who could potentially make the country proud.

In fact, he said the contention that the skills and techniques prominently displayed in gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics are ‘’acts that can bring excitement to men’’ should also not be accepted.

“Sports provide a platform for national athletes to showcase a high level of self-discipline and a strong sense of sportsmanship, in their quest to fly the Jalur Gemilang in the world.

“Therefore, the definition of ‘excite’ should not be the basis for any sports development policy,“ he said in a statement today.

The statement was in response to a statement by Terengganu Youth, Sports and Non-Governmental Organisation Development Committee chairman Wan Sukairi Wan Abdullah about the state’s decision to withdraw from participating in women’s gymnastics events, which he claimed were exploiting and exhibiting indecent acts.

Ahmad Shapawi said what surprised him was the statement came from a state that did not make both sports a priority in sports development and did not participate in gymnastics or rhythmic gymnastics in any of the school or sports competitions at the Malaysian Games (SUKMA).

“I am not sure why the statement was issued. Sports is an element that should unite people of all races and religions. MSN believes that the government should always provide a fair and equal platform in sports for all regardless of religion, gender and skin colour.

“Sport has always been the best entity in uniting Malaysians and prioritises merit and performance of athletes over other external factors,“ he said.

Ahmad Shapawi said the issue of sports attire especially in sports involving exposing certain parts of the body has not only been discussed several times before but also has been brought to Parliament.

Therefore, he said for certain types of sports that essentially feature revealing attire, it is up to the individuals involved in the sport to pursue it or not as long as it does not violate international sporting rules or risk the athletes safety.

According to him, the individual or athlete has the right not to participate in the sport no matter their interests or talents if they feel that they are in violation of the sharia law. Alternatively, they could compromise and settle for shariah-compliant attire.

“As such, I think it is not appropriate to raise the issue and it would be very unfortunate if the Terengganu government’s proposal is applied to non-Muslims because sports should not be used to restrict the freedom of those who wish to be active in.

“We appreciate the efforts of the Terengganu government to find a solution for the Muslim community (with regard to) appropriate sporting attire in line with the shariah demands and I acknowledge that religion is an important aspect in the Malaysian context.

“But it is not appropriate for the Terengganu government to apply this policy because the attire issue is the individual’s personal right as much as the decision to participate in a specific sport. Male athletes are also exposed to non-shariah compliant sporting attire in certain sports such as swimming, diving, athletics, including the most popular sport, football.

Wan Sukairi said on Tuesday that the Terengganu government was prepared to withdraw from sports that don’t adhere to shariah-compliant attire. These include gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics for women. — Bernama

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