Thursday, July 25, 2024

Malaysia asks for World Juniors to be postponed, not cancelled

The Azman sisters, Aifa and Aira, from Malaysia

Final hopes of glory dashed for Aifa
By KNG ZHENG GUAN – Squash Mad Correspondent

The cancellation of the WSF World Junior Championships is a huge blow for junior squash players all over the globe.

The World Juniors, which was due to be held in Gold Coast, Australia from July 19-30 was called off by Squash Australia and the World Squash Federation (WSF) as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

With Australia also having imposed a six-month travel ban on their borders, Squash Australia made the decision to pull the plug completely on the World Junior meet. It was an inevitable decision once the Carrara National Centre was forced to close because of the virus.

“The decision is made in the best interest of Squash Australia and the WSF in light of the current global situation as the pandemic situation is something that is outside everyone’s control,” said Squash Australia chief executive officer Richard Vaughan.

“It was the correct decision to make with full consideration to the health and safety of junior players, families and supporters that were set to attend the pinnacle event of the sport at this level.

“We wish to thank the WSF for their support and cooperation after working very closely with us these recent weeks to ensure the best decision was made,” added Vaughan.

In Malaysia, it was certainly a huge blow for players in their final year as a junior.

Aifa Azman in action against England’s Elise Lazarus

This came after Malaysia had earlier pulled out from the competition whilst anticipating a postponed event instead of an outright cancellation.

“With the current Covid-19 situation, I certainly agree that it wasn’t the right time to organise an event of such a scale,” said Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) director Major S. Maniam.

“That was the reason why I withdrew our juniors earlier for the sake of their health and safety.

“However, I feel the decision to cancel the event completely is not particularly fair, especially to countries like us.

“This is because our players, especially the likes of Aifa Azman, certainly stand a chance to win her first world junior title this year.

“It would have been better to postpone it to a later date this year. I would certainly like to propose that to the WSF as well,” added Maniam.

The cancellation certainly ends the hopes of Aifa, who had been the country’s best bet to snatch a world junior title since Nicol David. 

Related link (New Straits Times): Malaysian junior junior Noor Ainaa Amani Ampandi lets off steam in the kitchen

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