Sport in Malaysia

Sport in Malaysia

Sport is an important part of Malaysian culture. The spectator sports with most fans include football, badminton and mixed martial arts.



The national badminton team is ranked world number 6 in the BWF World Team Ranking (as of 4 July 2017). Malaysia’s own international badminton tournament, the Malaysia Open is a part of the Badminton World Federation’s Super Series. Malaysia has won the Thomas Cup, the world men’s team trophy, five times and been runner-up nine times as of 2016. The games are held every two years.



The Malaysia men’s national squash team has reached the quarter-final stage at the World Team Squash Championships six times, and won the Asian Squash Team Championships three times. The women’s team has won one silver medal and four bronze medals at the World Team Squash Championships, winning the Asian Squash Team Championships seven times.

Lawn bowls

Lawn bowls

In August 2017 at the SEA Games the women pairs players won Malaysia’s fifth gold medal in lawn bowls. The men’s pairs players won Malaysia’s fourth gold medal at the same games.



Malaysia hosts two international road cycling tours, the annual Tour de Langkawi and Jelajah Malaysia. The country’s cycling squads are looking to win 11 out of the 13 gold medals on offer in the cycle track events of the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August 2017.



Pandelela Rinong Pamg is a role model in diving, being the first Malaysian to win an Olympic medal in any sport other than Badminton.

Martial arts

Martial arts

Silat is widely practised throughout Malaysia. Silambam is popular among Malaysians of Tamil Indian origin. In the northern states Tomoi is most commonly practised, similar to the Thai national sport of Muay Thai.

Motor sports

Motor sports

The Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix, A1 Grand Prix and Malaysian motorcycle Grand Prix are held at the Sepang International Circuit. The Grand Prix motorcycle racing season includes the Malaysian motorcycle Grand Prix.

Team sports


In the FIFA World Rankings of August 2017, Malaysia is ranked 166th in the world and 31st in Asia. Malaysia women’s national football team is ranked 80th in the world and 18th in Asia in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings.


At August 2017, the men’s hockey team is ranked 12th in the world and 4th in Asia in the FIH World Rankings. The team won a silver medal in 2010 Asian Games. The Malaysia women’s national field hockey team is ranked 22nd in the world and 6th in Asia in the FIH World Rankings.


The Malaysia national netball team is ranked 23rd in the world and 2nd in Asia in the INF World Rankings.

Rugby union

Malaysia have yet to make their debut at the Rugby World Cup. MRU Super League is the top flight of rugby union league in Malaysia.

Major sport events

Malaysia takes part in many international sporting events including the Asian Games, the Southeast Asian Games, the Olympic Games, and the Commonwealth Games. Malaysia has hosted the 1998 Commonwealth Games and came in fourth place in the medal tally. Malaysia has played host to the Southeast Asian Games five times and became the overall champion in the gold medal tally at the 2001 Games.

The National Sports Day (Malay: Hari Sukan Negara)

Launched in 2015 and held on the second Saturday in October, the day promotes a healthy lifestyle to all those living in Malaysia.

Sukma and Malaysia Para Games

The Sukma Games is a biannual event first held in 1986. 5670 athletes from 13 states, Federal Territory and Brunei participated at the 2016 Sukma games. The Malaysia Para Games follow the Sukma Games and are held at the venue where the Sukma Games were last held.

Olympics and Paralympics

Malaysia has attended all Summer Olympics since 1964, except the 1980 Summer Olympics which it boycotted. The country won eight medals in badminton, two medals in diving and one medal in cycling.

Malaysia made its debut at the Summer Paralympics in 1972, next returning in the 1988 Summer Paralympics and every subsequent edition of the Summer Paralympics, winning a total of seven medals: three gold, two silver and five bronze. Malaysia has never entered the Winter Olympics or Paralympics.

The Islamic Solidarity Games

Launched in 2005 in Saudi Arabia, the Islamic Solidarity Games is a multinational, 25-sport event that involves elite athletes from the 57 member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Non-Muslim citizens in member countries are able to take part in the Games. Sports include everything from archery, boxing, diving, football, gymnastics, martial arts, shooting, swimming, tennis, water polo, Wushu (since 2013) and Zurkhaneh (since 2017).

The organisation responsible for the games is the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF). The Federation became involved in a dispute around the second edition of the games, originally scheduled to take place in Tehran, Iran in 2009 and then postponed to 2010. The dispute was around the term ‘Persian Gulf’ in the games logo, which some countries in the Arab world refer to as the ‘Arabian Gulf’. The second edition of the games was eventually cancelled.

The other editions of the Islamic Solidarity Games took place in Palembang, Indonesia (2013), Baku, Azerbaijan (2017) and Istanbul, Turkey is due to hold the 5th edition in 2021. After the Azerbaijan games, Malaysia sits in seventh place in the medals table with 90 medals including 31 golds, 22 silver and 37 bronze.