GEORGE TOWN: The organisers of a run a day after Deepavali announced that it would carry on with it as planned, after facing opposition by political parties and the Penang government over the unfortunate choice of date.
Penang Run 2016 organiser Andrew Loh Lean Hock said cancelling the event would bode no good for some 2,000 runners already registered for the run.
In a statement posted on the Facebook event page, Loh said he could not upset all the 1,780 runners who had signed up for the 9th edition of the event.
Today, however, Loh apologised to all Indians in Penang for holding the event a day after Deepavali.
“I would like to apologise to Penang Indians for organising the event on a day after Deepavali,” Loh said in a statement released via the state government today.
He said the event was planned in March 2016, way before Deepavali and they (organisers) were looking for a long weekend for the run and the date also coincided with the national race calendar.
“At the time, I didn’t realise that Oct 30, 2016 would be the day after Deepavali,” he said, adding that he deeply regretted having the event during the Deepavali celebration and he meant no disrespect to Indians in Penang.
“The Penang government is not the organiser and the Penang Island City Council is merely providing technical assistance,” he added.
Yesterday, Gerakan slammed the organisers for holding the event too close to Deepavali, which falls on Saturday.
Even Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy called on the organisers to apologise to Penang Indians immediately for being “insensitive”.
Meanwhile, Loh revealed that out of 1,780 runners registered, only 56 were of Indian descent, while in the previous edition of the run, there were only 38.
“We are mere lovers of sports who promote sports in our neighborhood for healthy living and fellowship.”
He said he never intended to cause any disrespect to any religion as he always believed that sports was a multiracial activity that brought harmony and peace.
“It should be beyond any political or any religious interference. See you all this Sunday. Happy Deepavali,” Loh added.
The Penang Run 2016 is organised by an outfit called ActifeLifestyle, with the cooperation of the Penang Island City Council (MBPP).
The organiser is offering a 21km competitive run and a 7km “fun” run this Sunday. First ten winners get cash prizes worth RM50 to RM500 and medals.
Previously, the run was organised by the Tanjung Social Club and Penang Forward Sports Club and was sponsored by Universiti Sains Malaysia and the State Youth and Sports Department.
In 2013, the DAP condemned the Penang Run organisers for holding the event on Thaipusam Day. The event took off without any interruption.