Sat, 12 Apr 2003

Fear of SARS prompts tryout cancellations

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian Amateur Athletics Association (PASI) has canceled its plan to give its athletes outings in neighboring countries due to the threat of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), an official said on Friday.

Tigor Tanjung, who is the secretary-general of PASI, said they had abandoned the tryout plan, which would involved trips to the Vietnam Open, Philippines Open, Thailand Open and Asian Cross Country Championships in India.

All the events were scheduled for May.

"Except for India, we still hope that they will postpone the events until later. The rescheduling will have to take account of the development of SARS. India has scrapped its event," Tigor said during the announcement of the Riau 10K here.

Tigor said they might be in for a two-month vacuum of tryouts during May and June, and that this would affect the preparation of athletes for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Vietnam this December.

"We have yet to think of an option for making up for the loss of time. We are just telling the athlete to train hard to try to keep up their competitive edge," he said.

Meanwhile, the maiden Riau 10K, which will be staged in Riau, in the eastern part of Sumatra Island, was announced with Tigor saying that the Rp 250 million (US$27,777) marathon competition could serve as a domestic tryout for the country's athletes.

PASI has drawn up a list comprising 10 men's and 10 women's runners for the competition. The contenders, according to Tigor, are the top-ranked athletes for the past three months.