Call to pick athletes based on capabilities not favouritism
James Kon

The various National Sports Associations in the country were urged to fully understand and grasp the prerequisite conditions that are set by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in order for athletes to be selected for future Olympic Games.

His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, the President of Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council, said this in a sabda following the Post Mortem meeting for the 3rd Asian Beach Games held in Haiyang, China 2012 and the 30th Olympic Games, London 2012.

HRH Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah firstly congratulated Brunei's three Olympians - Dayang Maziah, Awang Anderson Lim and Ak Hafiy Tajuddin - for boosting the country's reputation and hoped that the trio, who are still young, would continue to work hard, carry out systematic training and follow the guidance of the national coaches as well as being exposed to regional and international championships as they would be at a mature age for the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

However, HRH said, "Their participation in the Rio Olympic Games is not automatic because who knows that in the coming years, there could be more remarkable athletes who can compete. All the athletes including Dayang Maziah, Awang Anderson Lim and Ak Hafiy Tajuddin will have to go through the selection process and fulfil the requirements set by the national athletes assessment and selection committee."

HRH reminded the National Sports Associations to comprehend the prerequisites which are set by the IOC for participation in the Olympic Games.

"For example, the participation for the London Olympics, the prerequisite to take part in the athletic event was to participate in competitions of the International Associations of Athletics Federations World Championship, while for swimming participation in the 14th FINA World Championship. Any athlete who did not take part in the events was not entertained. This is what had happened to our lady swimmer. She was not considered because she did not compete in Shanghai. Myself and other officials from Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council had tried our best, however IOC did not budge on its policy."

Speaking on female athletes, the President of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council said, "IOC has stressed on the importance of gender equality. Therefore, I would like to remind that we should also give the same importance to the matter. This means that sending all the best male and female athletes based on their capability and qualification that has been set to represent the country and not based on favouritism. Participation in regional and international events is very important as a prerequisite in taking part in major competitions like the Olympic Games."

HRH also hoped that one day in the future, Brunei athletes would be able to take part in the Olympics without universality place.

Touching on universality place, HRH said, "I am saddened that some sports associations thought that Brunei Darussalam's participation through the universality place is to fulfil the obligation only. I don't know why they think so? Maybe they are more focused on competitions that promise to bring in medals, but it is still impossible to get medals from the Olympic Games."

HRH reminded that the process of selection for athletes to the Olympic Games is no different to the selection of athletes for other competitions. All athletes have to be assessed and appointed by the national athletes assessment and selection committee. The final say on selecting athletes to represent the country lies with the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council in line with the exclusive right provided by the IOC.

In connection with the universality place, HRH said, "To gain a place from the quota allocated by the IOC and the host of the Olympic Games is not as easy as we think. Our athletes will need to compete and fulfil the prerequisite to gain a spot. Among the sporting events contested, only athletics and swimming gave more quotas. This is the reason why we have failed to gain a place in other sporting events. What is saddening is that after the athletes were selected, the national sports associations seemed to neglect the well being and needs of selected athletes."

Although there is limited financial allocation, HRH suggested "at least try to look for sponsors or other means".

From the shared experience, His Royal Highness hoped that it would become a lesson and guidance in the country's effort to strengthen the athletes.

His Royal Highness also supported the Chef de Mission's suggestion to send a lady chaperon if women athletes take part in any competition. This is an important matter to be considered, HRH added.

Present at the Post Mortem meeting were Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Awang Hj Hazair bin Hj Abdullah, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports; and Datin Paduka Hajah Adina binti Othman, Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports; as well as Awang Haji Ismail bin Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Setia Dato Paduka Haji Hashim, the Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. - Borneo Bulletin (23 October 2012)