The Beijing Olympic Games started off with a 'bang' with the participation of 204 countries albeit in the conspicuous absence of Brunei which was excluded by the International Olympic Committee for failing to register any athletes.Despite the IOC's effort to assist BDNOC in sending the athletes to 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports continued to uphold its decision.
In light of the non-participation of any Brunei athlete and contingent, the IOC, following the common policy of the Olympic Charter, removed all Brunei flags from the Olympic venue.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sport yesterday responded in another statement that it has the responsibility to prepare athletes for any international and regional sports event, including the Olympics, in accordance to certain criteria.
All nominated athletes must undergo intensive training and pass the assessment including test on agility, skills, discipline and so on.
One of the athletes nominated for the Olympics had trained since March 2008, but sustained an injury in June 2008 during the Testa Sukan Kebangsaan' and has been unfit to compete to date.
Local sports fans, surprised by the decision, have called the Bulletin seeking clarification. The consensus was it was an embarrassing episode for the country.
Lokman, a teacher, told the Sunday Bulletin it was a big surprise for many. "Despite the four-year gap after the last Olympics, there should be ample time for any preparation or in this case the registration for the participants," he said.
Commenting on the BDNOC explanation, Hj Ramli of Kg Tungku said that right now, it seems that the only game we are playing is the 'blame game' and this is already too late.
"The whole thing is an embarrassment for the country with millions of people knowing about it," he added.
Meanwhile, sources told the Bulletin that the two athletes picked were previously given the go-ahead to compete.
They were training hard "thinking" that they would be headed for the Olympics. It is still unclear what happened along the road to Beijing as officials still refused to comment.
Brunei not in China because ...
AT 8.08pm on Friday all eyes were glued to the television.
Two hundred and four countries were represented during the march-past at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, but Bruneians awaiting the national contingent were disappointed that it never materialised the only country not to do so.
Understanding the people's frustration, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports yesterday explained in a Press release why Brunei decided not to participate in Beijing.
The ministry said that it was responsible for preparing athletes for regional and international tournaments, including the Olympics, depending on certain conditions.
All athletes chosen to represent the country have to undergo intensive training, pass physical tests and skill assessments among others.
One athlete competing in the shot putt event Mohd Yazid Yatimi Yusof has undergone intensive training since March.
Unfortunately, he injured himself in June (right liotibial strain with mild lateral ministrial knee injury), when he was competing in the Pesta Sukan Kebangsaan (National Sports Festival).
The Press release also went on to state that until today Yazid could not undergo full training. His condition means that he cannot compete in any regional or international event.
In mid-July, the Brunei Darussalam Olympic Council (BNOC) issued a Press release stating that it had to wait for approval from the Youth and Sports Department under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports as to whether Brunei Darussalam could be represented at the Olympic Games.
The participation of Yazid and swimmer Maria Grace Koh in the Games was accepted by the International Olympic Council (IOC) under the unqualified athletes quota after they were given the go ahead by the governing bodies of their respective sports Yazid by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and Maria by the International Swimming Federation (Fina).
Brunei Darussalam's participation in the Olympic Games is based on the Olympic Charter where under by-law on Rule 28-3, it states that: "The NOCs have exclusive authority for the representation of their respective countries at the Olympic Games and at the regional, continental or world multi-sports competitions patronised by the International Olympic Council. In addition, each NOC is obliged to participate in the Games of the Olympiad by sending athletes."
The same Olympic Charter under by-law on Rule 45-9 (the Olympic Games) mentions that if the council withdraws from participating in any Olympic Games without the consent of the IOC Executive Board, the council would end up being sanctioned or measures such as fines will be imposed.
Now that the country has no athletes in Beijing Olympics, there is a possibility that sanctions will be made, resulting in Brunei not being able to participate in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and other international tournaments in the future.
The worst case scenario is that the sultanate will be kicked out of the IOC, though any decisions regarding the matter will only be made after the Olympics come to a close on Aug 24.