The Olympic Council of Asia loathes the practice by the Southeast Asian Games Federation allowing host countries to insert sports indigenous to them, but is powerless to stop it.
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, president of Asia’s highest sports body, said they have no control over the affairs of the 11-nation SEAG Federation.
Myanmar (Burma), which is hosting the Games from Dec. 11 to 22, included 60 events alien to Filipinos, including 18 in the unheard-of combat sports of kempo and vovinam.
“I’ve heard about (the practice) and I’m very surprised with those kinds of events, but it’s a different organization (SEAG Federation),” said Al-Sabah, a member of the Kuwaiti royalty who met with top Philippine Olympic Committee officials yesterday at Marriott Hotel in Pasay.
Al-Sabah, however, offered to organize a dialogue with the National Olympic Committees of the SEA Games if another country formally supports the Philippines’ expression of concern.
“If there’s more than one NOC with the same intention, then we will start a discussion with the organization,” said Al-Sabah.
The SEAG Federation is composed of sports leaders from Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, the Philippines, Laos, Burma, Cambodia and Timor Leste.
The OCA, the continental arm of the International Olympic Committee, is the governing body of the 44 Asian countries under the Olympic movement.
“You usually give the host country some local events to give them a chance to get more medals, but not more than 10 percent of the total number of events,” said Al-Sabah.
“If there’s 400 events, there should only be 40 events of those kind of sports.”
The city of Naypyidaw is the hub of the Myanmar Games and will stage the majority of the 460 events in 33 sports.
Al-Sabah said it would be impossible for the OCA to convince Myanmar to change the calendar of events with the Games just nine months away.
“The number of indigenous sports should not prevail over the number of Olympic sports,” said POC first VP Joey Romasanta.
Al-Sabah is in town to officially award the hosting of the Asian Games Centennial Festival, the 100-year anniversary celebration of the Asian Games, to the Philippines.
The Asian Games Centennial Festival, which will coincide with the 204-nation Association of National Olympic Committee meeting, is scheduled on Nov. 26 to 29 in Boracay.
Al-Sabah said the Philippines was chosen since the first Asian multisport competition, then known as the Far Eastern Championship Games, the precursor of the Asian Games, was held in Manila in 1913.