Cojuangco to raise SEAG issue to OCA

By Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 14 2013 09:47 AM | Updated as of Feb 14 2013 09:29 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose Cojuangco will bring the controversy surrounding this year's Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar to the attention of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).

Cojuangco said once Sheikh Fahad Al-Sabah, the OCA president, visits the country, he will raise the issue regarding the sports being played in the SEA Games.

The Philippines will host the centennial celebration of the Asian Games in November, and there's a chance that the OCA president from Kuwait is soon due for a visit.

"Hopefully if the Sheikh comes here I will really sit down with him," said Cojuangco.

Filipino sports officials are up in arms after Myanmar, which will host the SEA Games on Dec. 11 to 22 , included close to 60 events, most of them from indigenous sports, in this year's calendar.

Cojuangco said there should be a limit to the number of indigenous sports in the SEA Games, and even suggested employing a points system in the biennial event.

The POC president said the SEA Games Federation can study the possibility of rewarding corresponding points for every gold medal won in Olympic sports, in the Asian level, traditional and indigenous sports.

Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia had a different suggestion in that medals won in indigenous sports should not reflect in the overall medal tally.

"I've long been thinking of a points system for the SEA Games like a gold medal in an Olympic sport gets 10 points, an Asian Games sport five points and indigenous events a single point," he said.

But that's not the case in Myanmar where organizers scratched Olympic events like lawn tennis, gymnastics and beach volley in favor of martial arts events like vovinam and kempo.

Cojuangco couldn't even pronounce the sport of vovinam correctly, only showing how unfamiliar the sport is to Filipino athletes and even others from the region.

"Imagine giving the same importance to a gold in this event (vovinam) to the gold in the 100-meter dash," said Cojuangco.

"That's why I'm also looking at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore. If this continues then maybe it's useless for us to enter (join) because I don’t see any gain for our athletes," he added.

Myanmar is offering 18 gold medals each in vovinam and kempo and another eight in chinlone (cane ball), and added a dozen events in chess that are relatively new to foreign participants.

The move prompted Prospero Pichay, president of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines, to decide not to send a team because they hardly know these additional events in chess.

The POC is thinking of just sending a token delegation of around 50 athletes to Myanmar, compared to the 512 it sent to the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia.

"The SEA Games should change its system. Nasisira na ang kabuluhan ng sports," said Cojuangco.