Cambodia SEA Games calendar faces scrutiny, trimming says POC chief
Martial arts Korea aside from taekwondo. Thirty additional events in vovinam. A local martial art called Kun Bokator.
These are just some of the sports Cambodia intends to pack into the competition calendar when it hosts the Southeast Asian Games for the first time. Good luck to organizers of the 11-nation event, though, as they try to cram a record 632 events into the biennial meet.
“This is the biggest SEA Games in history with 632 events, but we will lessen them because there are so many, particularly in martial arts,’’ said Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Rep. Abraham “Bambol’’ Tolentino.
Tolentino said the first-time hosts intend to hold all those events across 49 sports in the 32nd edition of the Games in Phnom Penh on May 5 to 16 next year.
Tolentino, however, pointed out that other member countries are not in favor of several events being included in the calendar.
“Many events are under sports that don’t have international federations (IFs) or most of the SEA Games countries aren’t familiar with,’’ said Tolentino during the
POC executive board meeting held at Knights Templar Hotel in Tagaytay City on Monday.
Cambodian organizers declared that there would be 30 additional events in vovinam, 24 events in martial arts Korea and 13 in dragonboat, a sport where the host nation could collect gold medals.
Martial arts Korea is distinct from taekwondo, which already has 24 events on tap. Martial arts Korea, to sports officials’ recollection, has never been played in the SEA Games.
Kun Bokator, Cambodia’s traditional martial arts, will get a pass though as a gesture of respect for the host country, according to Tolentino.
“We respected the inclusion of Kun Bokator because that’s their traditional sport, but we cannot allow the others,’’ said Tolentino.
The SEA Games Federation will gather virtually next week to finalize the events in the Cambodian sports calendar.
“They (hosts) also have a different IF (international federation) in muay thai and martial arts Korea,’’ said Tolentino.
Present during the executive board meeting were POC chairperson Steve Hontiveros, the body’s secretary general, lawyer Edwin Gastanes, treasurer Cynthia Carrion, auditor Chito Loyzaga, deputy secretary general Carl Sambrano and general manager Carla Maramara.
The Philippines hosted the most sports at 56 but with just 530 events in 2019, while Vietnam held a 40-sport program with 526 events last May. Brunei owns the record-low program with 22 sports and 233 events in 1999.
Vovinam wasn’t on the Philippine program in 2019, but played in Vietnam, where the sport was founded, with 15 events. Palembang also hosted 14 events in vovinam in 2011.
POC board members Pearl Manageulod, Raul Canlas, Charlie Ho, second vice president Richard Gomez, International Olympic Committee executive board member Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, Karen Caballero and Athletes Commission representative Nikko Huelgas attended online.
Ernest John “EJ” Obiena’s parents, Emerson and Janette, and Vietnam SEA Games pole vault silver medalist Hockett delos Santos also paid Tolentino a courtesy call.
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