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KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 -- Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican is expecting more athletes to join the 12 national athletes who have qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo in July.
The growing optimism stems from 23 athletes under the Road To Tokyo (RTT) 2020 programme are now hunting for slots in the Games through various qualifying processes which are still going on until June.
“As an example, in badminton, Lee Zii Jia has obtained his ticket (to Olympics) which I did not include in the list of 12 athletes as the qualifying process is still open.
“It can be said that all have the chance except one which is diving as the qualifying process has been postponed and is still waiting for the status of one more qualifying championship to be held,” he told reporters at a media conference after launching the ‘Tokyo Olympics 2020, 100 Days To Go’ ceremony at the National Sports Council (MSN) in Bukit Jalil here today.
Touching on diving, Reezal Merican said the last qualifying event has been cancelled and it affected the chances of national divers as well as divers from all over the world including China which a diving powerhouse.
“So I do not want to announce prematurely as there are more opportunities until June,” he said.
To date, Malaysia has confirmed participation in diving, sailing, track cycling, archery and artistic gymnastics in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Among the 12 athletes who have qualified are Khairul Anuar Mohamad (archery); Mohd Azizulhasni Awang and Muhammad Shah Firdaus Sahrom (track cycling); Nur Dhabitah Sabri, Ng Yan Yee, Pandelela Rinong and Leong Mun Yee (diving).
Apart from that, Farah Ann Abdul Hadi (artistic gymnastic) and four sailing athletes - Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy, Nur Shazrin Mohd Latif, Nuraisyah Jamil and Juni Karimah Noor Jamali.
Thirty two athletes comprising 17 men and 15 women represented the country at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.