MANILA – The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has so far summed 656 athletes who will do battle in the 31st Southeast Asian Games that are due in under two and a half months in Hanoi, Vietnam.

POC President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said majority of the 39 national sports associations which are fielding athletes to Vietnam have submitted tentative rosters for the May 12 to 25 Games.

The Philippines is competing in 39 of the 40 sports programmed by Vietnam for its only second hosting of the Games since 2003. In these 39 sports, the country is participating in 44 disciplines, according to Tolentino.

“Comparing the numbers when we hosted the Games in 2019, we’ll have a delegation that’s slashed almost in half from three years ago,” Tolentino said in a news release on Monday. “And a quick look at the numbers show we’ll be hard-pressed to repeat as overall champions.”

There were 1,115 Filipino athletes in 2019—an automatic privilege that host countries have—and they won 149 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze medals for a guaranteed overall title.

“But we’ll have a fighting team in Vietnam, setting aside the difficulties of training and competing or training overseas because of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Tolentino said.

Of the 44 disciplines, the POC has yet to receive a tentative list for athletics, men’s 3x3 and 5x5 basketball, weightlifting and jiujitsu.

The deadline for the submission of entries by names is on March 12 and Tolentino said the POC is hopeful to complete the list—including expected revisions from NSAs which already complied with the body’s February 24 internal deadline—by then.

“Several NSAs were allowed to submit tentative lists because they’re still completing their final qualifications or trials,” he said.

The estimated size of the delegation is pegged at 874. Also on the tentative list are 177 team officials (coaches, team managers and/or NSA heads or representatives) and 20 members of the medical (doctors, nurses, and masseurs/therapists) and administrative staff.

Competition venues for Filipino athletes are spread out in four clusters although majority will be in the main hub of Hanoi, Tolentino said. The POC based the clusters on their proximity to Hanoi.

Filipino athletes will be competing in diving, swimming, finswimming, archery, athletics, badminton, 3x3 and 5x5 basketball, billiards and snooker, bodybuilding, bowling, boxing, canoe-kayak, chess, cycling, dancesports, esports, fencing, football, golf, gymnastics (artistic, aerobic and rhythmic), beach handball, judo, jiujitsu, karate, kickboxing, kurash, muaythai, pencak silat, rowing, sepak takraw, shooting, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon/duathlon, volleyball, beach volleyball, vovinam, weightlifting, wrestling and wushu.

The Philippines is not participating in Vietnam’s 40th sport of xiangqi (Chinese or elephant chess).(PR)