PUSHING for a standard sports calendar in the region, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero yesterday threw his support behind the Philippine Olym-pic Committee’s (POC) call for a review of the Southeast Asian Games events.
Escudero’s stand came after Myanmar, this year’s SEA Games host, announced that it would scrap several Olympic events in favor of indigenous games that are unfamiliar to the majority of the biennial meet’s member-countries.
“This is a bad sign for the region,” Escudero, the Senate’s most vocal supporter of sports, said in a statement. “We have been struggling in sports for so long, and news about the SEA Games host clipping Olympic sports from the calendar—if only to ensure its own victories in sports unfamiliar to its neighbors—do not help the region in any way.”
The host’s decision has led the POC, along with the Singapore Olympic Committee, to call for the standardization of SEA Games events that should include Olympic sports.
“Maybe it’s high time we think about the region’s sports future by supporting calls for a standard calendar in future SEA Games,” said Escudero.
Escudero, an avid pistol shooter and biker, said the government should back the POC’s bid to also help boost the country’s sagging campaign in international competitions.
“Sports has long been in the sidelines of government priorities, but it is important in gauging a country’s economic growth,” said Escudero. “More developed countries have Olympic champions; we have none yet.”
Escudero cited the general poor performance of the region in the 2012 London Olympics where no Southeast Asian country bagged a gold medal.
The measly Olympic haul was two silvers and one bronze for Thailand, one silver and one bronze for Indonesia and Malaysia and two bronzes for Singapore.
“I believe governments can make an impact by raising the level of sports in Southeast Asia,” said Escudero. “While national Olympic committees—including the POC—are autonomous and free from political pressure and interference, I believe there is a very thin line of division while maintaining a high respect between NOCs and governments that would merit cooperation in this line.” Jasmine W. Payo