TAGAYTAY – The Philippine team to the Southeast Asian Games has been reduced in number in terms of the participating athletes.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino confirmed on Monday that the Filipino athletes going to Phnom Penh for the biennial meet are now down to 840.
"From the previously announced 905, it was reduced to 840," Tolentino said right after the SEA Games torch rally here, adding that this will be the final count.
He said various reasons behind the reduction of numbers like typographical errors, for example, dual entry and wrong entry.
Tolentino, however, said the POC also had to let go of some reserve athletes and those who cannot make it to the Cambodian capital as their passports have already expired and their renewal process might not make it in time.
Having to let go of such athletes could possibly hamper the Philippine team's bid to match or even go higher than its fourth-place finish in the overall standings during last year's edition in Hanoi, the first time the SEA Games were held in an even-numbered year due to a one-year postponement caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
"That's the big challenge: how can we attain the fourth-place standing or better than that?" Tolentino said.
Despite losing some slots, it is still considered a blessing as the POC was initially targeting only around 600 athletes going to Phnom Penh.
"Medyo mahirap, but dahil sa fighting spirit ng atleta natin at saka nadagdagan (It's somehow tough, but because of our athletes' fighting spirit and the increase in number) from 600 to 800, we might [still finish in fourth]," Tolentino said.
The POC earlier said 257 sports officials and coaches would join the Philippine team.
The SEA Games will formally begin on May 5, but some events will start as early as April 29. (PNA)