The Safe Sport Code will be launched on March 15, said Youth and Sports Ministry official Ahmad Jefri Aziz @ Adan.
During the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) Women and Sport Committee webinar hosted on Facebook yesterday, Jefri said the ministry realises the urgent need to establish a guideline or policy that can serve as a tool to provide a safe environment for sporting activities.
As the term “safe sport” is rather new in the local sports community, he added that it is important to educate the people about its definition and rights.
“Should anything happen to them (the sporting community), who can they turn to to lodge a report?
“We have heard a lot of cases concerning athletes and their grievances. There is a need for our sports ecosystem to take solid action to overcome sexual misconduct or any type of abuse, be it physical or mental.
“We intend to introduce the code to protect everyone from any wrongdoing, strengthen integrity, and promote good governance to sports bodies,” he said during the webinar series, themed “Safeguarding Athletes: Creating a Safe Environment in Sport” and hosted by OCM in conjunction with International Women’s Day 2023.
Jefri, the ministry’s policy and strategic planning division secretary, said that launching the Safe Sport Code would surely promote a safer environment and encourage positive values in sports.
He admitted that many quarters have debated formulating an act instead of a code, but said that the rationale for the code was that Malaysia had sufficient existing laws.
“Coming up with a new law is going to take years, like how the anti-sexual harassment bill took nine years to be tabled in Parliament and enforced.
“The ministry feels we need something that is cost-effective, fast, and a low-hanging-fruit approach. It is a quick-win approach, but also impactful.
“We cannot sit down and wait for years for an act to be established before we educate the community about safe sport. This is the time for us to start introducing the Safe Sport Code.”
Jefri also noted that the code will be a living document, which can be improved or revised instantly whenever necessary.
Meanwhile, citing the recent volleyball player-slapping incident in December as an example, he said cooperation from various parties is equally significant in guaranteeing the code is effective.
“What happened in the Education Ministry regarding the player-slapping incident was a good example of having a proper structure to handle grievances or remorse.
“We need to educate our community about what safe sport is, especially to the parents.
“One of our biggest concerns is for those who have experienced any type of misconduct to have the confidence to come forward and report. Otherwise, there is no use for the ministry to come up with guidelines and policies if they (the victims) are not convinced about the system.”
According to OCM assistant treasurer Datuk Mohd Nasir Ali, who read a statement on behalf of president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria, the widespread high-profile cases of athlete abuse were a wake-up call for OCM to move forward with the safe sport initiative.
“Sports, as we are fully aware, is open to abuse by certain segments of its practitioners. Due to national high-profile cases of athlete abuse, efforts to advance safe sport had been made.
“Therefore, it is only right for OCM to develop this initiative as a form of education to advance the culture of safe sport free from abuse and harassment, in conjunction with International Women’s Day 2023.
“Through the Safe Sport Code framework, OCM is committed to working closely with the Youth and Sports Ministry to eradicate all types of abuse, harassment, and violence committed against athletes, officials, or coaches of any age,” said Norza in the statement. – The Vibes, March 9, 2023