KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 (Bernama) -- The next three editions of SEA Games will be less likely to have ‘strange’ and traditional sports, with priority given to Olympic and Asian Games sports.
This is following the amendment to the SEA Games Federation (SEAGF) Charter that was agreed to by the member countries on the eve of the recently-concluded Cambodia Games in Phnom Penh.
Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria said the 11 participating countries in the biennial Games agreed to reduce the number of optional sports at the 2025 Thailand, 2027 Malaysia and 2029 Singapore editions.
“The Charter has been changed on May 4. Hopefully, after this, the things that happened in previous editions will not recur. The category of sports for the hosts to choose from has been reduced. We will focus on Olympic and Asian Games sports,” he told a press conference yesterday.
In the SEA Games, apart from the mandatory Category 1 sports - athletics and aquatic (swimming, diving) - the host country can choose to introduce non-Olympic and traditional sports if at least four-nation agree to participate in them.
This prompted the host countries, including Malaysia, to add sports and events that they’re strong in and drop the events they’re not good at to achieve a favourable position in the medal tally, often with an eye on the overall title.
Some of the less popular sports that have been contested in the SEA Games recently were arnis, ouk chaktrang (chess), kenpo, kun bokator, kun khmer, kurash, underwater hockey, finswimming and vovinam.
Despite the positive change, Mohamad Norza warned that Malaysia might still be lagging in the SEA Games if all the stakeholders, especially the National Sports Council (NSC) and the national sports associations (NSAs), do not buck up.
“Speaking about Olympic sports, we have athletics and aquatics in Category One, we can’t run away from that. So, I feel the time has come for us to jointly look into this matter and bring the sports up to a higher standard,” he said.
He also requested the Youth and Sports Ministry to improvise the reward system for athletes, claiming that neighbouring countries like Indonesia have a far better reward system.
Mohamad Norza said that while athletes and NSAs with commendable performances should be rewarded well, the ministry should also take punitive action against those who fail to meet expectations by reducing their funding.
At the recent Cambodia SEA Games, Malaysia could only finish seventh with 34 golds, 45 silvers and 97 bronzes for their worst-ever performance in the history of the biennial Games since 1959, with athletics and swimming only managing to win five out of 47 and one out 39 gold medals up for grabs respectively.
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