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Malaysia’s Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli competes in the final of the men’s shot put F20 at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, August 31, 2021. — AFP pic
Malaysia’s Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli competes in the final of the men’s shot put F20 at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, August 31, 2021. — AFP pic

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TOKYO, Sept 2 — Malaysians have been advised to stop criticising Ukraine and to remain calm over the current situation regarding the country’s contingent at the ongoing Tokyo Paralympics.

Chef de mission Datuk Seri Megat D Shahriman Zaharudin reminded the public to set a better example so as to avoid painting a bad image of the country in the eyes of outsiders.

“We are all civilised people and have high respect for others; let’s show a good example.

“Don’t blame other countries, instead we must improve ourselves to become better human beings. I understand that some Malaysians are angry with the decision but what is most important is that we must move forward,” he told Bernama.

He said this when asked to comment on the action of Malaysian netizens attacking the social media sites of Ukrainian athletes and the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee following the recent controversial decision in the men’s shot put F20 (intellectual impairment) category at the Tokyo Paralympics.

On Tuesday , the world sports arena was rocked by a shocking incident in Tokyo after Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli was denied the gold medal in the men’s F20 shot put event. His throw of a distance of 17.94 metres (m) was also a new world record for the event.

He was classified as Did Not Start (DNS) following a protest lodged by Ukraine, who claimed that Muhammad Ziyad was late to enter the call room.

Ukraine’s Maksym Koval was announced as the gold medallist with a throw of 17.34m, breaking Muhammad Ziyad’s world record of 17.29m that he had set at the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships in London.

Yesterday, World Para Athletics (WPA) rejected Malaysia’s appeal, but the Organising Committee stated that all protests and follow-up appeals could be made by writing to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and WPA once the Games are over.

The disqualification of Muhammad Ziyad’s gold medal was based on World Para Athletics Rule 5.5 — “Failure to Report to the Call Room” — which states that in case athletes are not present in the call room at the relevant time as published in the Call Room schedule, they will be shown in the results as DNS (Did Not Start).

Megat D Shahriman said he respected the decision taken by Ukraine as they had the right to protest with regard to the result of the shot put event as allowed in the rules of sports competitions.

He also appealed to all Malaysians to forget about the incident and refocus as well as unite to support the national athletes in their mission to meet the three-gold target at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Meanwhile, Megat D Shahriman, who is also the Paralympic Council of Malaysia (PCM) president, said he respected Australia’s decision in admitting their mistake which resulted in their athlete Todd Hodgetts being classified as DNS as well.

According to him, he will leave it to a committee that has been set up to investigate the issue in Tokyo and that he would notify any further development once the Paralympics are over.

“Let us proceed and forget whatever had happened, we have more athletes to concentrate (on). I believe we can win more medals here,” he said.

Malaysia’s quest for medals now rests on these athletes, 2016 Rio gold medallists Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi (men’s 100m T36) and Abdul Latif Romly (men’s long jump T20); as well as Wong Kar Gee (men’s long jump T13), S. Suresh (archery), Cheah Liek Hou (badminton) and Brenda Anellia Larry (swimming).

The Tokyo Paralympics will end on Sunday (September 5). — Bernama

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