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Friday, June 21, 2024

Limited number of SEAG events for PH athletes worries POC chief

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Filipino athletes can join a limited number of events in the coming 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia.

POC president Abraham Tolentino

The organizers have focused on putting a lot of events in combat sports, with members of the Philippine national team unfamiliar to many of them.

Philippine Olympic Committee president and Tagaytay City Mayor Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino learned this a few hours before he was to attend a virtual meeting of the SEA Games Federation Council.

“Medyo mabigat ang ginawa ng host country. They have put in a lot of martial arts events and even non-martial events, and limited the number of countries that can join most of them,” said Tolentino during Tuesday’s weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.

For a country of less than 17 million people, Cambodia has lined up 608 events in 49 sports, far bigger than the 530 events in 56 sports in the Manila edition in 2019 and the 526 events in 40 sports in Hanoi last year.

But it doesn’t mean that the Philippines, this early, is giving up the fight for the biennial event scheduled May 5 to 17.

Tolentino said the POC will still make sure that the Philippines will be represented well in as many events in Cambodia, and hope to match or improve on its fourth-place finish in Hanoi in May 2022.

“Salihan natin lahat ng events sa Cambodia,” he said during the forum presented by San Miguel Corporation, MILO, Philippine Sports Commission, POC, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.

The POC has recently assembled an 814-strong Team Philippines delegation to the Cambodia meet following the completion of two consultative meetings with national sports associations last October.

Among the sports where there are limitations is karatedo, where there are 15 events, with participating countries only able to join in 12.

Tolentino will seek clarification in canoe-kayak, which will reportedly allow only seven countries to field in participants.

With the POC seeking full participation in the competitions, Tolentino will dig deeper to find out the status of bodybuilding, which has reportedly been scrapped, and what’s going on with muay thai as well.

Cambodia finished at No. 8 in the last SEA Games edition, winning nine gold medals along with 13 silver and 41 bronzes. Providing the golds for the country were vovinam with three and petanque with 2, then kickboxing, wrestling and taekwondo with one each.

Tolentino said it will be very difficult for Cambodia to win the overall title this year.

“Based on their formula hindi kaya mag-first. Pero sasaksak sa taas ‘yun whether second, third or fourth. So baka battle for fourth na naman. Tingnan natin,” said the POC president.

Tolentino said it will be a busy year for the Philippines, since the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China are set from Sept. 23 to Oct 8.

After that, it’s the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games from Nov. 17 to 26 in Bangkok, Thailand.

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