After Chance Encounter Businessperson Questions Lack Of Help For Special Olympians



A businessperson has raised questions about the alleged lack of government support for Malaysian athletes competing in the Special Olympics
R Jeyendran told Malaysiakini he encountered a nine-person Malaysian team facing difficulties passing through airport security in Chennai, India last night
The team was returning to Kuala Lumpur after competing in the Special Olympics International Football Championship

"I was in Chennai and happened to be booked on the same flight. We were passing through security and I saw their bags were being checked
"There was a kid, the officer asked her to take off her shoes...I thought she looked like a Malaysian, so I asked what were they doing (in Chennai) and all that," said Jeyendran
Upon discovering that they were part of a Malaysian team, Jeyendran said he volunteered to assist them in communicating with the airport security officers on duty
"There were two officials traveling with the team but I wondered why there was no Malaysian embassy representative accompanying them," he added
No welcome celebrationFollowing two days of league matches between 12 countries, the Malaysian men's team had emerged as champions of their division while the women's team were ranked third
Jeyendran said he had offered to share his travelling privileges with the team, as a reward for their achievement
Their flight arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 7am today and Jeyendran said he was surprised to discover that there was no welcome celebration for the team, unlike other athletes
"People here in Malaysia are not opening their eyes to these athletes' achievements," he said
The Special Olympics International Football Championship was held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Outdoor Stadium in Chennai from Aug 3 to 6
Unlike the Paralympic Games organised in parallel with the Olympic Games, the International Olympic Council-recognised Special Olympics World Games are held for athletes with intellectual disabilities instead of physical disabilities
Malaysiakini understands that athletes with intellectual disabilities do not fall under management of the Malaysian Paralympic Council, which only covers athletes with physical impairments
As such, their participation in such sporting events is privately funded and outside the purview of local sports authorities
According to its official website, the Special Olympics global movement was set up in 1968 by President John F Kennedy's sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Over 1.9 million athletes from 34 countries currently compete in its Asia-Pacific programmes. - Mkini

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