POC, other SEAG countries howl over 632 events laid by Cambodia

MANILA – First-time host Cambodia intends to go big time by laying out a 49-sport program with a potentially record number of events at 632 when the 32nd edition of the Southeast Asian Games are held on May 5 to 16 next year.

But Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president, Representative Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, told the POC Executive Board during its regular meeting on Monday that the other member countries are contesting the inclusion of dozens of events.

“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 meeting held at the Knights Templar Hotel in Tagaytay City.

“This is the biggest SEA Games in history with 632 events, but we will lessen them because they are so many, particularly in martial arts where most of the countries aren’t familiar with,” he added.

Cambodia organizers bared during the SEA Games Federation meeting in Bangkok last week that there will be an additional 30 events in vovinam, 24 events in martial arts Korea and 13 in dragonboat, a sport the hosts are strong at.

Martial arts Korea is distinct from taekwondo and was never played in the SEA Games.

Tolentino said that Cambodia’s traditional martial arts, Kun Bokator, will be allowed as a gesture of respect for the host country.

“We respected the Kun Bokator because that’s their traditional sport, but we cannot allow the others,” Tolentino said. “They [hosts] also have a different IF in Muay Thai and the martial arts Korea.”

Tolentino said that the SEAG Federation will meet virtually next week to decide on the sporting events program.

The Philippines hosted the most number of sports at 56 but with 530 events in 2019, while Vietnam held a 40-sport with 526 events last May. Brunei owns the record-low program with 22 sports and 233 events in 1999.

Vovinam was not on the Philippine program in 2019 but was played in Vietnam with 15 events. Palembang also hosted 14 events in vovinam in 2011.

Present during the Executive Board were chairperson Steve Hontiveros, secretary general Atty. Edwin Gastanes, treasurer Cynthia Carrion, auditor Chito Loyzaga, deputy secretary general Carl Sambrano and general manager Carla Maramara. Board members Pearl Manageulod, Raul Canlas, Charlie Ho, second vice president Richard Gomez, International Olympic Committee Representative to the Philippines 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. (PNA)