SOME of the play has been exquisite – but the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games continues to create the wrong kind of headlines away from the matches, following a bus crash involving squash players.
The crash, which involved two buses carrying squash athletes and officials from their hotel to the venue, saw the squash competition suspended until players had been cleared.
The players involved in the crash were from Thailand (13 athletes), Myanmar (10 athletes) and Philippines (five athletes).
Two Myanmar players have withdrawn from the competition after suffering whiplash injuries. Fortunately, the injuries suffered by women’s doubles players Aye Aye Thin and Ei Ei Pyone, are not thought to be serious.
In a statement, the Malaysia Organising Committee (MASOC) said: “The MASOC regrets that an accident happened this morning involving two buses carrying squash athletes and officials from their hotel to the competition venue at the KL Sports City.
“The athletes involved in this unfortunate accident were from Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand.
“The MASOC Medical Committee is attending to the medical situation; some of the affected athletes/officials are being attended to at the Games Medical Centre (GMC).
“We are relieved to learn that some of the athletes and officials have been cleared to compete by their own team doctor after undergoing medical examination.
“The matter is now being investigated by the Royal Malaysian Police (RMP) and the Road Transport Department (RTD) for further action.
“We will issue a further statement on the re-scheduled matches as soon as the information is available.”
— BERNAMA (@bernamadotcom) August 21, 2017
The incident is understood to have happened when the leading bus braked suddenly to avoid hitting a motorcycle, which saw the second bus hit it from behind.
The athletes were on the way from Marriot Putrajaya Hotel to the National Squash Centre at Bukit Jalil.
Philippines team manager Abad Santos said: “What happened was just unfortunate. It was an accident after all.
“There were two buses. We were in the first bus together with the Thailand team while Myanmar was in the bus behind us.
“We also had a police escort and everything seemed fine until the second bus hit us strongly from behind.
“Some of the Myanmar players had some slight injuries but my players are all fine and we’re still ready to play.”
A spare bus took the athletes the rest of the way to the competition venue, although organisers are yet to offer a further statement on when Monday’s play will get underway.
The bus incident is the latest unfortunate episode for organisers of the SEA Games.
Last week, a bus driver ferrying the Myanmar women’s football team was arrested on suspicion of stealing a watch belonging to a Malaysian official.
And there was a furore at the weekend after the official guidebook to the Games printed an upside-down version of the Indonesian flag.