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Thai officials insist Asian Beach Games will occur despite political problems


Sporting officials in Thailand have insisted that, despite the cancellation of a beach volleyball World Tour event last week, other events including the Asian Beach Games later this year will be unaffected by political unrest currently gripping the country.

The south-east Asian nation has faced instability since last November when the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, led by Suthep Thaugsuban, began staging anti-Government rallies in Bangkok as part of a call for wider reform.

Last week, a Thai court found Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra guilty of abuse of power and ordered her to step down, thus increasing the tension, before Shinawatra was indicted by the National Anti-Corruption Commission over a widely criticised rice policy that her Government had introduced.

It was announced last Wednesday (May 7) in response to the increase in tension that the Phuket leg of the International Volleyball Federation World Tour, scheduled for October 15 until 19, would be cancelled.This created fears the Asian Beach Games, due to be held on the same island from November 14 until November 23, could also be affected.

But Major General Charouck Arirachakaran, secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand, told the Bangkok Post that they should be able to host the Games.It was claimed that while the number of protesters in Bangkok is growing, the situation in Phuket and around other holiday destinations like Krabi and Phang Nga is much less serious, and the flourishing tourism industry there remains relatively unaffected.It is also claimed that while the volleyball event was ostensibly cancelled because of political unrest, there were additional problems relating to Government finance and other logistical support, and this also contributed to the final decision.

But Arirachakaran added that it would be difficult for Thailand to bid for future major international sporting events, including the 2023 Asian Games, as well as the 2019 version for which the country had been considered a possible replacement after Hanoi withdrew from hosting the Games last month.

”We have to wait and see the new Sports Minister’s policy,” he said.

The General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees is due to be held in Bangkok from November 5 until November 9, and with the epicentre of the protests in the capital city, fears must be rising that this will be unable to go ahead.

Earlier this year, snooker’s Players Championship Grand Finals was also moved out of Thailand due to political unrest, and the season ending tournament was instead held in Preston, England.

Golf’s Thailand Open, one of Asia’s oldest national championships, has been postponed from earlier this year and is likely to be cancelled because an alternative date is difficult to fit into the regional schedule of golf events.

But a Volleyball World Grand Prix in Bangkok from August 15 to 17 and the Asian Girls’ Under-17 Volleyball Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima in October should take place as scheduled

It is also hoped the inaugural Thailand Open taekwondo tournament, to be staged in Bangkok in November, should not be affected, although this is dependent on future developments.

Fresh elections have been provisionally set for July 20, and sporting and political figures alike will be hoping this will resolve the tension.

This article first appeared in www.insidethegames.biz and is reproduced with permission. The original article can be viewed by clicking here.


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