MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Sports Commission Richie Garcia yesterday warned Grandmaster Wesley So he could lose his status as a priority athlete if he so decides to skip the 27th SEA Games set Dec. 12-22 in Myanmar.
“If he skips the SEA Games and he has no tournament equivalent to the SEA Games to show, there’s a strong chance he will be removed from the priority list,” Garcia told The STAR yesterday.
Garcia’s statement came after So debunked the National Chess Federation of the Phl’s claim that he has committed himself to play in Myanmar.
So has refused to confirm his SEAG stint after what he felt as a shabby treatment he got from the NCFP, the PSC and the Philippine Olympic Committee for snubbing his gold medal feat in the Summer Universiade in Russia last July.
But Garcia said the PSC’s hands are tied on the issue.
“As much as we want to recognize his accomplishment and give him his incentive, we really can’t. There must be a recommendation from his national sports association (NSA), in this case the NCFP, for us to act on it,” said Garcia.
As a priority athlete, So, who will turn 20 on Oct. 9, receives a monthly stipend of P40,000 plus funding for several international training tournaments of his choice.
So, who is currently ranked No. 41 in the world with a FIDE rating of 2706, remains non-committal as far as the SEAG is concerned.
“No, nothing is confirmed yet,” So told The STAR on his Twitter account @wesleySo93.
In disgust of the local sports officials’ treatment, So has mulled suiting up for another country, perhaps Canada or the US.
Garcia, however, hopes things will be resolved soon.
“I hope they talk things over because it will be a big loss if So plays for another country,” said Garcia.