PHILIPPINE Sports Commission chairman Ritchie Garcia criticized the Myanmar Southeast Asian Games organizers for what he believed is a serious effort by the host to dislodge the country in the medal standings.
The country’s top sports executive came up with a definite stand Wednesday when he criticized the events included in the SEA Games calendar this year.
“We are really strong in showing that we are not happy with the set-up,” Garcia said during a press briefing at his fourth floor office inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
The Philippines finished sixth during the 2011 edition of the SEA Games after winning 36 gold medals, while Myanmar finished behind at seventh with 16 golds.
But of the 444 events enlisted by the host for this year’s biennial meet, noticeably absent where the ones in which the country has strong potential to win gold medals.
Only 20 out of the 36 events where Filipinos won gold medals were included in the sports calendar.
Garcia said he has yet to hear from the four-man Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) delegation that attended the SEA Games Federation Council meeting in which the finalization of the events served as the top agenda.
“Ano ba ito, linuluto na ba? Hindi pa nag-uumpisa, talo na tayo,” Garcia said.
“The way we look at it, sa umpisa pa lang target na ng Myanmar is to dislodge the Philippines sa sixth place,” said the PSC chairman, who even compared the country’s upcoming SEA Games campaign to boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao taking on a heavyweight fighter.
With the bloated number of events, Garcia also believes Myanmar is targeting to dislodge other countries as well.
“Nakita nila na kung gagawin natin ito, gagawin natin ‘yan, puwede tayong umabot sa No. 2 or No. 3,” Garcia said.
Obviously missing are Olympic sports like lawn tennis, badminton, and gymnastics, while indigenous sports that are medal-rich such as chinlone and tarun derajat have been included.
In a recent development, Singapore-based newspaper Straits Times said organizers have reinstated hockey, table tennis, water polo, and badminton – sports where the Philippines is not particularly strong.
With the scrapping of events where the country is traditionally strong, Garcia is now mulling on the idea of just sending a token delegation to Myanmar.
“We might as well send a token delegation which will only represent the country and comply with the SEA Games Federation. Hindi mo puwede i-boycott.
“Pero there is no rule na hindi na tayo puwedeng magpadala ng limited number of athletes,” said Garcia.
Sending athletes only with strong gold medal potential are also possible to save funds.
“It’s either that or ‘yung 10 priority sports na inadapt namin. But as I said, it’s not for me to decide. It’s the POC,” stressed Garcia.