Malaysian badminton star Lee out
KUALA LUMPUR, July 25, (AFP): The United Arab Emirates and Palestine were Wednesday officially added to the football tournament at the Asian Games after they were accidentally omitted from the original draw.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) conducted a limited re-draw at their headquarters in Kuala Lumpur to include the two sides alongside 24 others taking part in football at the Games, which begin next month.
AFC secretary-general Windsor John said Games organisers failed to pass the names of UAE and Palestine to his body for the initial draw, even though both teams had attempted to register.
John said he was not sure what caused the problem, adding “it could be some computer glitch, it could be some communication breakdown”.
He stressed the AFC was not running the competition, and was conducting the draw on behalf of the Olympic Council of Asia and the Indonesian organising committee.
Eris Herryanto, secretary-general of the Indonesian committee, told AFP the two sides had not properly followed the registration procedures.
“They did something wrong. For example, if they registered one person more than they should have had, that won’t go into the system,” he said.
Palestine was placed in Group A with Indonesia, Hong Kong, Laos and Taiwan. The UAE was placed in Group E with South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia and Bahrain.
It was the latest problem to hit the run-up to the Games, which are being held in Palembang and the capital Jakarta from Aug 18-Sept 2.
At the weekend irate Indonesian football fans ripped plastic seats from the stands and hurled them onto a pitch at a stadium in Palembang scheduled to host matches at the Games.
Indonesia has been scrambling to prepare venues, finish building work, widen roads and ease traffic congestion.
About 11,000 athletes and 5,000 officials from 45 Asian countries will take part in the world’s biggest multi-sports event after the Olympics.
Meanwhile, Malaysian badminton star Lee Chong Wei has pulled out of the World Championships and Asian Games because of a respiratory illness, officials said Wednesday, after a gruelling schedule in recent months.
The world number two has been advised to rest and undergo treatment after competing in nine tournaments so far this year.
The week-long World Championships in Nanjing, China, begin on Monday while the Asian Games in Indonesia are from Aug 18 to Sept 2.
“(Lee) is unwell and suffering from a respiratory related disorder,” the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) said in a statement.
“For the time being, he cannot undergo any intensive physical activity for a period of at least one month and therefore we have to withdraw Lee from his participation at the BWF World Championships… and the Asian Games.”
BAM did not give any further details about the three-time Olympic silver medallist’s illness.
Speculation had been mounting over the past week about the 35-year-old’s health after he failed to show up for training.
The development is a blow for the former world number one, who has never won gold at either the World Championships or the Asian Games during a stellar 17-year career.
His achievements this year include winning the men’s singles gold at the Commonwealth Games and clinching his 12th Malaysian Open title.
BAM president Norza Zakaria said he had met Lee and supports his decision to rest.
“We do not want the pressure of competition to impose a toll on his health. We look forward to his return to competition,” he told AFP.