(Reuters) - The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) has slammed the behavior of the nation’s athletes after being landed with a $40,000 bill for fines and damage to accommodation at last year’s Asian Games.
The 142,478 Malaysian Ringgit bill, sent by organizers of the Asiad in Incheon, South Korea last September and October, was the highest the OCM had ever received after a major multi-sport Games, the Malaysia Star reported on Sunday.
“The discipline among our athletes is getting from bad to worse. I believe that there is an urgent need to check this ... otherwise it’ll escalate,” OCM secretary general Sieh Kok Chi told the newspaper.
“Smoking was again the major issue ... damage to property was the other. In some cases, the damage was minimal but the host made a big issue and wanted us to pay for the whole thing. So we had no choice but to pay up.”
The fines would be passed on to the sports associations whose athletes were responsible, with the sepak takraw team now facing a $24,355 bill, he said.
“The OCM board have already been briefed about the fines and they’ve decided that the sports concerned will have to fork out the payment,” he added.
“The OCM cannot afford to pay this kind of money. We’ve sent letters to the associations on the matter.”
Danyal Balagopal Abdullah, who led the 288 Malaysian athletes at Incheon as chef de mission, said he thought the extent of the damage had been exaggerated.
“Some of it is really petty, even the cigarette stain was a problem,” he told the paper.
“I agree that our athletes should not have done it as they had been briefed and warned of the consequences. Despite the hefty fine, I don’t think indiscipline in Incheon is a big issue.”
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford