By Susil Premalal
Sri Lanka is planning to compete in eight disciplines at the sixth edition of the Asian Beach Games scheduled to be held in Sanya, China from November 28 to December 5, according to the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOCSL) and the Ministry of Sports.
It could be the first international sports event Sri Lanka would be participating in since the global COVID-19 viral outbreak and the first to be held in Asia.
The Asian Beach Games is organized every two years by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) with the participation of 40 member countries.
There are a total of 19 disciplines at this year’s Games and Sri Lanka hopes to compete in eight of these event, NOCSL president Suresh Subramanium told the Daily Mirror.
“We are making preliminary preparations geared towards taking part in this event. We will take a call later on depending on the decision taken by the organisers, closer to the event,” he said.
The sports ministry has proposed that Sri Lanka takes part in beach volleyball, beach kabaddi, 3x3 basketball, aquatics (marathon swimming), aquathlon, teqball, surfing and beach wrestling.
“If there is an international event, we must take part. The Asian body is of the opinion that the Games have to be held. May be closer to the date, they can cancel or postpone. It is always good to be prepared rather than not preparing and then going for the Games. There is no point in preparing at the last minute for any major event. The players should be physically fit before they play the ball. So we have to prepare and be ready to take part at these events. For instance, next year’s Olympics is also still in the balance, but can we wait without training for the event?” he said.
Subramanium said future international sports events could be held behind closed doors.
“I think most sports especially these big events (Olympics) will be closed-door spectator-less affairs. The only plus factor is the television rights are bound to sky rocket. The downside of this episode is that the players who are participating at these events will have no encouragement, they would have no crowd support. To fill that void they may have to fill up the stadium with TV and other multimedia equipment and have recorded footages of crowds cheering,” he added.
The respective national sports associations set to participate at the Asian Beach Games have been requested by the Sports Ministry to commence preparations for the event by selecting players and begin training at the earliest. Most sport bodies have selected the national pool to resume training by June 8. Some associations had commenced national pool training before the coronavirus pandemic.
The Sports Ministry will hold a discussion today with the relevant sports bodies regarding their participation and preparation for the Asian Beach Games.
The sports at the Asian Beach Games are 3x3 basketball, aquathlon, beach water polo, open water swimming, beach athletics, beach handball, beach kabbadi, beach soccer, beach volleyball, beach woodball, beach wrestling, dragon boat, ju-jitsu, jet ski, paramotoring, sailing, kite surfing, wind surfing, sport climbing, surfing and teqball.
Meanwhile the Sri Lanka Volleyball Federation have selected two national pools for men and women, of 12 players each, said its general secretary A.S. Nalaka. After selection trials, each pool will be reduced to six players each before the final squad of four each is selected to represent the country at the Games.
The volleyball federation is aiming for a gold medal at the Games and is hoping to get down a renowned coach from Switzerland for at least two months prior to the event.
Beach volleyball was introduced as an event at the Asian Beach Games when it was held in Bali, Indonesia in 2008. Thereafter it was held in Muscat, Oman (2010), Haiyana, China (2012), Phuket, Thailand (2014) and on the last occasion in Vietnam (2016).
Sri Lanka have regularly participated at the Asian Beach Games since its inception, winning two bronze medals on every occasion except in 2008.