KORAT: For some of the 3,000 odd athletes taking part in this year’s Southeast Asian Games, it could be their last chance at medal glory.
Some officials are considering ditching traditional SEA sports from future Games, to focus on Olympic events.
There are also calls to clamp down on biased judging.
Dancesport may be a big hit among Filipinos, but it is not an Olympic Games medal sport.
In the last Games held in the Philippines, several countries were unhappy that the host country introduced other non-Olympic sports like softball and Filipino martial arts, arnis.
Many felt it was a move in favour of the Philippines. Some had even considered bringing up the issue at the ASEAN Summit.
20-year-old basketball player Zhao Jing was hoping to represent Singapore in the last SEA Games.
But the Basketball Association of the Philippines dropped the sport just two weeks before the Games started.
“The Basketball Association had some problems so even though we trained very hard, we were told it won’t be in the SEA Games,” said Zhao.
That is why a fixed programme focusing on Olympic sports may help to add credibility.
Singaporean Chris Chan belongs to SEA Games Sports and Rules Committee.
He said: “Our programme for each game fluctuates. Thailand has 43 sports now and the next SEA Games at Laos may have 22 sports because that’s what they can host, so there’re no standard sports. One of the requirements is for us to determine the sports, probably between 30 and 32.”
To achieve this, he said the SEA Games Committee needs to raise funds.
That would help associations run future Games more professionally, including hiring international referees.
Chan is also part of the SEA Games Think Tank Committee and said marketing the Games and selling television rights would be a start.
“The population of 11 countries is 580 million so we believe there’s a market. When we get the funds back from marketing, TV rights and merchandise, the money can go back to the 11 councils and the games will be much better organised,” he added.
Several sports marketing companies have already been short-listed to promote future events.
Channel News Asia