Gymnastics, an Olympic sport where the country enjoyed moderate success in the past, has been bumped off the 27th Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar (Burma) this December.
Top sports officials will bring up the removal of gymnastics and other Olympic sports—where Burma has a minimal chance of landing medals—from the Games during a meeting with Olympic Council of Asia president Sheikh Fahad Al-Sabah on Thursday in Manila.
Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia said the discussion would center on modifying SEA Games Federation guidelines that give the host country leeway to choose the lineup of sports in the Games.
“The meeting with the Sheikh will be for the future (of the SEA Games),” said Garcia. “Let us change the rules of the SEA Games Federation on indigenous sports.”
It has become a practice in the 11-nation Games for the host country to pick sports of its choice and to add ethnic sports so it could improve its chances of winning more medals.
Myanmar, which will host the biennial Games from Dec. 11 to 22, has also excluded baseball, softball, fencing, lawn tennis and some events in chess, apart from gymnastics. The Filipinos were counting on these sports in their bid to improve on their sixth-overall finish in the previous Games in Indonesia.
Gymnastics chief Cynthia Carrion was disappointed with the exclusion of the sport, which offered 17 gold medals two years ago.
The former PSC commissioner said national gymnasts were hoping to use their participation in the SEA Games as a springboard to meet the qualifying standard for the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
“I pity our gymnasts,” said Carrion. “Their morale is down. We trained and trained but ended up with nowhere to go.
“There’s a certain score you have to meet to qualify in the Asian Games. We’re really targeting the SEA Games to achieve the score.”
Myanmar, which placed seventh overall in 2011, inserted unheard-of ethnic sports like the combat disciplines of kempo and vovinam, which offer 18 gold medals each.