Sea Games 100m champ Haiqal Hanafi and national 100m record holder Khairul Hafiz Jantan could have avoided being stopped from boarding a plane at KLIA yesterday morning if they had read their emails.
The emails were to inform the duo that they tested positive for Covid-19.
Haiqal and Khairul were supposed to travel with eight other national athletes to Almaty, Kazakhstan, to compete in the Qosanov Memorial Championships on June 19-20.
Unfortunately, both returned positive results, and which were emailed to them.
A bewildered Malaysian Athletics Federation president Datuk S.M. Muthu could not believe the duo’s follies after so much was spent on preparing them in their bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
Fortunately, the other eight athletes and two officials were allowed to get into the plane after much intervention from the National Sports Council (NSC).
“Until now I can’t believe the events that unfolded last night (Monday) which led to both the sprinters being stopped at the KLIA,” said an extremely angry Muthu.
The saga started as Haiqal and Khairul, who were training at the Bandar Penawar Sports School, arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday night, and had their PCR tests the next morning.
Apparently, both of them were oblivious to the importance of the Covid-test results, and “confidently” boarded the bus at the NSC compound at 9pm, Monday, together with the other officials and athletes bound for Kazakhstan.
Their plane was supposed to take off after midnight to Dubai and then to Kazakhstan.
“Luckily, eight of the athletes had already passed the (airport) gates with an all clear from security. But when it came to the two sprinters’ turns, security checked their emails for the PCR test, and both were found to be positive,” said Muthu.
It is believed that Haiqal was the source of the infection as his grandmother had died two weeks ago from Covid-19, and Khairul picked it up as both are buddies who trained and travelled together from Johor.
After being barred from the plane, Haiqal and Khairul were taken to a special area at the NSC building and quarantined for two weeks.
“Luckily the others were allowed to board the plane after intervention from the NSC and that their records showed Covid-19 negative.” said Muthu.
The eight athletes competing in Almaty are Lee Hup Wei (men’s high jump), Andre Anura Anuar (long jump), Hakimi Ismail (triple jump), Jonathan Nyepa (100m), Ilham Suhaimi (400m), Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian (110m hurdles), Connie Chu Kang Ni (women’s discus) and Yap Sean Yee (high jump).