PETALING JAYA: The National Sports Council (NSC) has criticised the Terengganu government over its decision to draft a shariah-compliant code of conduct for athletes.
“The state government’s concerns over female gymnasts and swimmers will affect the future of potential female athletes who can make the country proud,” NSC director-general Ahmad Shapawi Ismail said.
Terengganu executive councillor Wan Sukairi Wan Abdullah had said the proposed guidelines are not exclusively about sportswear but also the way athletes behave during sporting events.
He said the state will also withdraw from sports events that do not conform to Islamic conventions.
Wan Sukairi named gymnastics as one such event, saying there should not be compromise in such sports “because the movements are arousing”.
In a statement today, Shapawi said it is unacceptable for the state government to assume that the skills and techniques displayed in such sports are “arousing”.
He said sports is the stage for national athletes to achieve their ambitions to make the country proud.
“’Arousing’ has never been a term in the gymnastics arena and should not be a factor in sports,” he said.
Shapawi said the choice of attire should be up to the athletes’ discretion.
“If an individual thinks that an attire is against the shariah regulations, then they can decide to not be involved in the sport or they can decide to wear something that is shariah-compliant,” he said.
He said he is concerned over whether the proposed code of conduct would affect non-Muslim athletes as well.
“We appreciate the state government’s efforts to find a solution regarding the issue of attire for Muslim athletes, and we recognise that religion is an important aspect in the Malaysian community.
“But it is unwise for the state government to implement such a policy as choice of attire is a matter of individual rights,” he said.
Shapawi believed the government should always offer “fair space” in sports for all, regardless of religion, gender and race.
Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman had said he would look into the issue.
“Athletes are our national heroes and heroines, regardless of what they wear,” he had said when asked about his opinion on the state’s move.