Delayed handbooks, participation cap: Tolentino eyes SEAG changes
Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino has slotted into quite a role in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games Federation.
“I am always the villain,” he told the Inquirer sports staff earlier this month.
“Every federation meeting, I am the villain because the other [national Olympic committee heads] don’t want to speak up,” he added.
Another development in the preparations for the 32nd Southeast Asian Games has the Tagaytay City mayor shaking his head—the delayed transmission of technical handbooks (THBs) for the 49 sports that Cambodia programmed.
“The THBs were issued only recently and most of them contain some errors, mistakes the host organizer has apologized for,’’ Tolentino said on Saturday.
Some of what’s written in the THBs, however, is unacceptable, Tolentino said, adding that Cambodia is doing everything it can to jump into the top four of the overall medal standings.
“In all martial arts events, [Cambodia] put a prohibition [on participants]. And it’s not just martial arts, Tolentino told the Inquirer, adding that the rule will be implemented in dragon boat and esports.
Cambodian organizers will allow other countries to field in male athletes in a maximum of seven out of 10 events per sport—four of six events for female athletes. The host country “can field bets in all events,” Tolentino said.
Cambodia has also lined up a lot of regional sports for the May 5 to May 17. Fin swimming, for instance, dangles 24 gold medals, one that could possibly reward the host country while vovinam has 30 golds at stake for the benefit of defending overall champion Vietnam, Cambodia’s neighbor and geopolitical ally.
Also to be played are Ok Chakktrong, a type of chess game, and Kun bokator, a form of martial art said to be a combination of kickboxing and sambo.
“Mathematically, whoever [crafted these rules] already computed the medals they can win,” Tolentino said. “We didn’t [limit participation] in 2019 [when the Philippines was SEA Games host]. That technique never even crossed my mind. That’s too much.”
Tolentino hopes changes in the SEA Games rules will end this gold-hoarding practice.
“Definitely after the SEA Games, we will sit down and move to strike these [rules]. They’ve made a mockery [of the event],” he said.
“They’re inventing [rules]. No matter what protest I make, [they just say] it’s noted.”
Tolentino said that while there is a silent majority backing his bid for change in the way the SEA Games is being run, there is also difficulty stopping host countries from implementing one-sided regulations.
“[R]emember, you need only four countries [to calendar an event], “ Tolentino explained. “So you have the host, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. Tapos ang boksing (Game over).
“We will try [to make changes]. We are a bigger [opposition] group now because other federations are angry too. Especially with the prohibitions [on number of participants]. It would be wise to revise the [SEA Games] constitution. Let’s concentrate on Asian sports and Olympics sports. Some of the events in Cambodia will not even prepare athletes for the Asian Games.”
Tolentino envisions a SEA Games that will feature “Olympic sports only, and reduced to two or three—maximum four—regional games.”