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    Only united stand can change Myanmar's mind on scrapped events, says top Asia official

    Mar 7, 2013
    Olympic Council of Asia president Sheik Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, pictured with POC president Jose Cojuangco, Jr., speaks at the launch party of the Asian Games' centennial celebration. Jerome Ascano

    THE different National Olympic Committees comprising the Southeast Asian Games need to get their act together if Olympic sports scrapped in the calendar of events of the biennial meet in Myanmar are to be reinstated.

    Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) president Sheik Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah made the suggestion to Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose `Peping’ Cojuangco in light of Myanmar's move to drop some traditional sports during the December 11-22 showpiece in favor of indigenous sports.

    “I’ve already discussed this with your NOC. And I said if there is more than one NOC with the same intention, then we can start discussion with the organizers,” said Al-Sabah, who is currently on a whirlwind, three-day visit to the country for the launching of the 100-year celebration of the Asian Games.

    The decision of Myanmar to ditch several sports in the SEA Games calendar, among them tennis, badminton, table tennis, and gymnastics, has led Philippine Sports Commission chairman Ritchie Garcia to suggest sending only a token delegation to the meet.

    At least 20 of the 36 events where the country won gold medals during the 2001 SEA Games in Indonesia have been affected by the move.

    In their place, the host has added non-traditional sports such as chinloe, vovinam, and kempo.

    The OCA chief said he doesn’t see anything wrong with the inclusion of indigenous sports in the SEA Games calendar, stressing that it is the privilege of the host to incorporate events where it can win at least 10 percent of the total medals at stake.

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    "But to have more than this, this is where it will play a bad role,” he said, noting that at least 60 gold medals are at stake in the three non-traditional sports combined out of the total 444 events at stake.

    At the same time, while OCA can facilitate talks between the different NOCs and the Myanmar SEA Games organizers, that doesn’t mean the host will readily grant the request of the highest Olympic body in the Asian region, according to Al-Sabah.

    “The SEA Games has its own organization, there is no influence (in the organization),” said the OCA president.

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    Olympic Council of Asia president Sheik Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, pictured with POC president Jose Cojuangco, Jr., speaks at the launch party of the Asian Games' centennial celebration. Jerome Ascano
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