Asian Games: pros cut from Sri Lanka golf squad after Hong Kong and others complain about breach of amateur rules
The Court of Arbitration for Sport met until 2am on Wednesday morning after about 20 members protested over the fielding of professional players
Hong Kong was among 20 teams who complained to the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the inclusion of professional players in the Asian Games golf competition, with Sri Lanka afterwards making three changes to their four-man squad.
CAS lawyers, who has set up an office in Jakarta to deal with any potential disputes, met on Tuesday night and deliberated until 2am on Wednesday morning. Although its ruling has yet to be made public, late on Wednesday night Sri Lanka replaced three players – including the 2002 Asian Games silver medallist Aruna Rohana.
Hong Kong Golf Association chief executive Danny Lai was satisfied with the how the matter has been resolved.
“We do not have the whole facts of the [CAS] incident but the HKGA is glad to see the rules of golf are upheld, and players can compete on a level playing field. It is a collective effort by the all participating countries who abide by the rules,” Lai said.
“If there are any ambiguities in eligibility we hope the R&A can discuss with the OCA [Olympic Council of Asia] to resolve it.
“When the first ball is struck in the morning, all these will be behind us.”
It is reported that Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Macau and Uzbekistan fielded professional players in a tournament reserved for amateurs. There was a plea from some of these countries that the Asian Games golf rules was ambiguous and failed to distinguish between pros and amateur.
To which Lai said: “The difference between professionals and amateur is very clear.”
Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera, who won a professional event in Chennai, India this year, and Lalith Kumara, who plays on the Indian circuit, have also been removed from the Sri Lanka squad along with Rohana, who was listed as a “professional”.
Only Bendaluwe Gamladdalge remains, while Sachin de Silva, Joseph de Soysa and George Kumara have been added to the team.
It is not clear if other teams accused of fielding pros have changed their players.
The golf tournament started on Thursday morning at the Pondok Indah Golf Course in Jakarta, with Hong Kong having a strong chance of winning medals if their golfers play to their potential.
The men’s team comprises Ng Shing-fung, Matthew Cheung Hung-hai, Jonathan Lai Ka-long and Wong Shuai-ming. Michelle Cheung Wing-yee, Mimi Ho Miu-yee and Isabella Leung Hei-nam are in Hong Kong’s women’s team.
Team and individual events are being held concurrently.