SEA Games: 16 Malaysian athletes hit by food poisoning

Malaysia’s contingent arrives at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on 19 August for the 2017 SEA Games opening ceremony. (PHOTO: Reuters)
Malaysia’s contingent arrives at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on 19 August for the 2017 SEA Games opening ceremony. (PHOTO: Reuters)

Sixteen Malaysian athletes competing at the 2017 SEA Games were struck with food poisoning.

This was revealed at a press conference organised chaired by the SEA Games Federation (SEAGF) president, Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja’afar on Thursday (24 August) at the Malaysian International Trade and Exhibition Centre.

The athletes were staying at the Renaissance Kuala Lumpur, the official hotel for the Malaysian contingent. Low Beng Choo, secretary of the Malaysia Organising Committee (MASOC) Sports and Technical Committee, said the incident is being investigated and that the organisers cannot be certain about the source of the affected food.

Low declined to reveal names or sporting disciplines of the athletes involved, but said one athlete taking part in petanque was affected, while a swimmer missed an event on Wednesday.

One athlete was also hospitalised as a precautionary measure, but Low said the athlete would be discharged on Thursday (24 August).

“Because they stay in hotels, they are at liberty to eat outside…. There are over 800 athletes (at the hotel)… it’s a bit difficult to identify the source (of the affected food) and they’re all from different sports who went to different venues for the day,” said Low.

She added that the authorities are investigating the incident and an official statement would be issued in due course.

“It’s very difficult to investigate a cause for 16 athletes in different venues and we don’t know what they ate and where they ate,” said Low.

Other hiccups

Transportation “hasn’t been perfect”, and some signage around venues is lacking, admitted Tunku Imran.

“Communication and information for the public concerning transportation needs to be improved,” he said.

Tunku Imran also weighed in on the gaffe that caused an uproar among Indonesian sports fans and led to Indonesian hackers defacing 33 Malaysian websites.

The Indonesian flag was printed upside down in a SEA Games souvenir booklet, a mistake which was “inexcusable”, said Tunku Imran. The 3,000 booklets were recalled, and 8,000 amended books are being reprinted and distributed.

He also said security would be tightened at the football venues for the semi-final matches.

“Tensions are high at some sports and these things happen. What I’d like to see happen is for those looking after safety and security to be vigilant,” he said.

Malaysian football hooliganism has been in the spotlight during this SEA Games – Malaysian fans called Singapore “dogs” during the Singapore-Malaysia clash, and two Myanmar football fans were beaten up following Malaysia’s win over Myanmar.

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