Myanmar given too much leeway for SEAG events

By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star)

Posted at Feb 13 2013 02:15 PM | Updated as of Feb 13 2013 10:15 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia said there is no point in questioning the calendar of events lined up by organizers of the 27th Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar in December.

“There is no point for appealing for consideration. Myanmar has already issued a categorical statement that there will be no more changes in the sports they have approved,” said Garcia.

Instead, the Philippine Olympic Committee should ask the SEA Games Federation to review its policies regarding the calendar of events for future stagings of the biennial competition.

“We should make a stand and ask the federation to review the policies they have adopted all these years,” Garcia told yesterday’s PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate.

Garcia said he can’t understand why host countries, in this case Myanmar, are being given so much liberty choosing the events they want to include and exclude in the Games.

Myanmar is hosting the SEA Games from Dec. 11 to 22 and in its desire to move up the standings it has included close to 60 events practically unknown to some countries.

Myanmar also scratched Olympic sports like gymnastics, lawn tennis and beach volleyball, and had included certain events in chess that players from other countries hardly play.

“The host countries are being given the leeway to include certain sports and sometimes it can be abused. The Philippine Olympic Committee will have to decide what steps to take,” Garcia said.

When the Philippines hosted the SEA Games in 2005, it only included arnis as the indigenous sport in the calendar. It offered only six gold medals, and the Philippines only won three.

Myanmar is heavily favored to dominate the close to 60 events it included, most of them in subjective combat sports like vovinam and kempo with 18 golds each.

Garcia said the Philippine should really consider sending a token delegation even if it means sending just one, 10 or 50 athletes to vie in Olympic sports.

“To make a boycott is a serious move for us. This does not require a boycott. But what we can do is participate in the least number of events with not more than 50 athletes,” he said.