POC not happy with one-sided Cambodia SEAG events
POC not happy with one-sided Cambodia SEAG events
DAVAO CITY--With a tremendous schedule of events, Cambodia will host the largest Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in history, but the Philippines is not too happy about it.

Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino, president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), expressed his disappointment when Cambodian organizers recently finalized the 608-event, 49-sport schedule for the 32nd Southeast Asian Games, which will be held in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap from May 5 to 16 in 2023.

Tolentino said that the host country established a regulation that only Cambodia may field 100% participation in combat sports and martial arts while limiting the participation of the other 10 nations to only 70% of the sports events.

“That benefits the host best while putting at risk our chances for the medals,’’ Tolentino said.

He claimed that Cambodia would follow Malaysia's example in organizing the 2017 Games in Kuala Lumpur, where the host country benefited similarly.

Cambodia nearly excluded Filipino-Japanese Junna Tsukii, the current World Games champion and a past SEAG gold medalist in women's 50-kilogram karate, but the host nation changed its mind.

Cambodia exercised its prerogative by participating in two native sports, Ouk Chatrang, a Khmer chess competition, and Kun Bokator, a martial art performed by the ancient Khmer military. 21 and 6 gold medals are up for grabs in these sports, respectively.

Tolentino also mentioned that artistic gymnastics, which essentially has eight events for men and six for women in the Olympics and world championships, only has four gold medals up for grabs—two for each gender.

With 30 and 24 events, Cambodia has also put itself in a good position in vovinam and fin swimming alongside its neighbor Vietnam.

Tolentino emphasized the goal of complete participation in terms of the number of sports and stated that the POC would "dissect" the events before determining the country's entrance by numbers.

With 56 sports and 530 events in 2019, the Philippines held the record for the most sports. In contrast, the Games in Vietnam in May 2018 had 40 sports and 526 events. In 1999, Brunei had a record-low schedule with only 22 sports and 233 events.(Romeo Braceros Jr.)

Photo: POC FB page
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