MANILA, Philippines — Burma (Myanmar) has no illusions of winning the overall championship of the Southeast Asian Games but the host country of next year’s biennial meet is setting its sight on overtaking the Philippines in the medal tally.
To achieve this, Burma is removing sports in the Games’ roster where Filipino athletes are strong and replacing them with events where the hosts are favored to win, according to Philippine Sports Commission Chair Richie Garcia.
Garcia Thursday said Myanmar has so far scratched bowling, chess and dance sports which are considered strong medal prospects for PH during the 11-nation Games slated in December 2013 in the city of Naypidaw.
“They removed several sports and replaced them with disciplines that we don’t even play,” said Garcia. “They’re doing it to displace us. It’s being manipulated.”
The Philippines placed sixth in the 2011 SEA Games held in Indonesia with a gold-silver-bronze output of 36-56-77. Myanmar wound up with a final output of 16-27-37 and finished seventh.
Garcia accused the hosts of lining up sports indigenous to the region but alien to Filipino athletes in the roster of events.
He said Myanmar has also increased to 18 the number of gold medals at stake in dragon boat, one of the few sports the host has dominated in past Games.
There were only 10 dragon boat events, also known as traditional boat race, in Indonesia with Myanmar winning all but one event—the 500-meter, 20-man crew, where Filipino paddlers edged the Burmese by a split second in the finals.
The PSC chief expects a gold-medal haul of 70 to 75 for the Philippines in its bid to achieve its objective of finishing at least fourth overall.