THE Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) plans to boycott the 2017 Southeast Asian Games if Malaysia organizers insist on dropping eight of 44 athletics events in next year’s meet although the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) cautions against such move.
Patafa president Philip Ella Juico expressed his disappointment over the initial list of events in the 2017 SEA Games that excluded the men’s and women’s marathon, steeplechase, and 10,000m run, the heptathlon, and the decathlon - events where the Philippines is traditionally strong.
Juico is planning to meet with Asean Athletic Federation officials where he will call for a boycott of the SEA Games and create a 'Southeast Asian Athletics Championships' during the same time as the biennial meet if the scrapped events Olympic events at that — are not reinstated.
“It’s all or nothing,” said Juico. “I will encourage the entire Asean members not to show up and hold our own Asean track and field championship at the exact same date, at the same hour as the SEA Games.”
“As I said, that’s a desecration of the sport and the Olympic movement. The Olympics started with athletics and to remove events because of flimsy reasons is inexcusable and unforgivable. It’s an injustice,” he added.
Juico also said there is a possibility that the SEA Games athletics competition will not be sanctioned by the Asean Athletics Championships if the exclusion of the said eight events is finalized.
“I talked to one of them and I received word that if any single event is removed, it will not be sanctioned,” Juico claimed.
POC president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco, however, doesn’t agree with Juico’s statements, saying the issue should be resolved diplomatically.
“The Southeast Asian Games is one of the friendliest competitions. There is a tremendous brotherhood and camaraderie among the members. You just don’t do that because it’s something that can be talked about,” Cojuangco said.
The POC chief also said he doesn’t want the Philippines' relationship with other countries be tarnished, especially since the country is set to host the 2019 SEA Games.
“We want to maintain this relationship and we are the host in 2019. More important than that, the Philippines is one of the most respected NOCs in the world and I would like to maintain that. We are sportsmen above everything else,” said Cojuangco.