MANILA, Philippines -- For the second straight Southeast Asian Games, equestrian will not be among the events.
It was not included in the initial list of 36 sports that host nation Vietnam released in July, and was also not among the 56 events held in the Philippines last December.
Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, the president of the Equestrian Association of the Philippines and a member of the International Olympic Committee's Executive Board, said she was not surprised at her sport's exclusion.
"Noong una pa lang, sinabi na nila, wala silang capacity to host talaga," Cojuangco-Jaworski said in a recent appearance at the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.
"From the very beginning, it was clear, and historically, hindi rin naman sila nakakapag-compete. So we cannot expect na kung hindi nagko-compete 'yung isang bansa or hindi nagiging advantage para sa kanila nai-host 'yung sport or event, hindi talaga nila iho-host 'yun," she said.
It was reported that Vietnam's budget for the SEA Games had been slashed as well, and instead reallocated to the country's efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cojuangco-Jaworski said they were well aware that equestrian was unlikely to make the cut, but she was still disappointed at the development.
"I was not expecting equestrian to be part of it, which, sayang kasi marami sanang plano 'yung Southeast Asian Equestrian Federation to develop the sport," said Cojuangco-Jaworski, who won a gold medal in individual show-jumping in the 2002 Asian Games in Busan.
Equestrian was not held in the 2019 SEA Games as well, despite the country's athletes insisting that they were well-prepared and capable of winning gold medals.
In the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Colin Syquia was the lone Filipino who won gold in the sport.
The Philippines is hoping to defend the overall championship in the SEA Games after winning a record 149 gold medals at home last year. However, the Filipino athletes' chances were dented as several events -- including arnis, kickboxing, and esport -- did not make Vietnam's initial list.
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