HOSTS Malaysia are on course for a record-breaking Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in terms of medals – but the organisers have been beset by non-sporting problems throughout.
The latest affects 16 Malaysian athletes, staying at the contingent hotel in Kuala Lumpur, who have been hit by food poisoning.
One athlete is understood to have required hospital treatment, while a statement from the SEA Games organising committee said all the affected athletes are in “stable condition”.
Those affected come from a range of sports, including swimming and petanque, with one swimmer missing his event on Wednesday as a result of the stomach bug.
The athletes were all staying at the Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel where the bulk of the 800-plus Malaysian SEA Games contingent are based.
Malaysia Organising Committee (MASOC) Sports & Technical secretary Low Beng Choo said at a press conference it was not yet confirmed whether the food involved came from the hotel itself.
“The matter is being investigated by the (health) ministry and the various authorities,” said Low.
“We’re not sure if the food was from the hotel, it could have been from outside. They’re locals so they could have gone out to eat.
“It’s hard to identify the source. All of them had breakfast but there are close to 1,000 people staying in the hotel.
“I understand the affected swimmer missed his event yesterday. In the interest of his health, he was asked to skip it.”
— Kuala Lumpur 2017 (@KL2017) August 24, 2017
In a statement, MASOC said: “The Malaysia Organising Committee has received a report of an incident that appeared to be a case of food poisoning, affecting several Malaysian athletes staying at the contingent hotel which is the Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel yesterday.
“All the affected athletes are currently in stable condition and being closely monitored by the medical team from the National Sports Institute (ISN) and the Ministry of Health Malaysia.
At the moment the source of the food contamination/poisoning has yet to be determined.
“MASOC is having a meeting with the hotel’s management, officials from the Ministry of Health Malaysia, Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur and ISN to investigate the matter and the source.
“We are monitoring the issue closely to ensure food preparation and handling at Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel adhere to the highest standards.
“On whether the affected athletes will be able to compete in their respective sports shall be determined by the medical team of KL2017.
“We will update the situation once full report of the incident is obtained.”
While Malaysian athletes have blazed a trail in competition, the organisers have had a challenging Games for many reasons.
They had to apologise to Indonesia after printing the country’s flag upside-down in the official Games guidebook, while a driver ferrying the Myanmar women’s football team was arrested on suspicion of stealing a watch belonging to a Malaysian official.
MASOC also issued a statement urging fans to behave themselves after some Malaysian football supporters chanted “Singapore dogs” during a men’s game on August 16.