Karim (centre) poses with the athletes for the Arafura Games in Australia after handing over the Sarawak colours to the contingent yesterday.

KUCHING: Sarawak will participate in the upcoming Arafura Games in Darwin, Australia as part of its ongoing programmes to prepare for Sukma 2020. Sarawak has been participating in the biennial games since 1997 when the first invitation came during the BIMP-EAGA Games.

Sarawak received a similar invitation from organisers last year in Brunei 2018 BIMP-EAGA Games. Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister, Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Rahman Hamzah handed over the Sarawak flag to Chef de Mission Dr Ong Kong Swee and the Sarawak contingent yesterday morning

He said: “The Arafura Games is similar to the BIMP-EAGA and the level of the competition is very good for our elite athletes in preparation for Sukma 2020, especially because the weather is the same so it is international exposure but with the same weather conditions.”

“The population of Darwin is similar to Sarawak, but they have what is called the Northern Territory Institute of Sports, which actually trains many Olympic hopefuls from around the world, so we aim to study
how they organise themselves in terms of infrastructure,” Karim continued.

Karim (centre) poses with the athletes for the Arafura Games in Australia after handing over the Sarawak colours to the contingent yesterday.

“Another aspect is to learn how they organise or host  the Games with countries participating from the Asia-Pacific Region and almost 3,000 participants,” said Karim.

The Arafura Games 2019
features local Darwinian, Australian national and international athletes.  While there has been a strong focus on inviting many of the Northern Territory’s closest neighbours to maximise opportunities to grow through trade, business and education links, athletes from all over the world have also registered.

So far, more than 1,500 athletes from more than 40 countries have registered, including the American Samoa, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Taiwan, Cook Islands, Czech Republic, England, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, Great Britain, Guam, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Nauru, Nepal, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Romania, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu and Vietnam. Sarawak’s contingent of 16 athletes and nine officials will be leaving for Darwin tomorrow and are expected to return on May 5.