Mendoza: Let’s simplify matters

·2 min read

This early, Cambodia has served notice it would win the 32nd SEA Games set in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap from May 5 to 16, 2023.

Why? Because it has decreed that only Cambodia could field a 100-percent participation in combat sports and martial arts, and the remaining 10 nations only 70 percent in the events of said disciplines.

The Inquirer’s June Navarro quoted Bambol Tolentino, the president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, as saying: “That benefits the host best, while putting at risk our chances for the medals.”

Of 49 sports calendared next year in Cambodia, a record 608 events are to be contested in the biennial meet.

The Philippines placed fourth overall in the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi this year after emerging overall champion in 2019 in Manila.

So consumed is Cambodia in its desire to win next year’s overall title that it initially scrapped the women’s 50-kg class in karate where Filipino-Japanese Junna Tuskii is the present World Games champion and a former SEA Games gold medalist.

Cambodia had to backtrack after Tolentino’s howl of protest.

But as if to compensate for the compromise, Cambodia will introduce two of its indigenous sports: Kun Bokator and Ouk Chatrang. Kun Bokator is a martial art practiced by the ancient Khmer military, while Ouk Chatrang is a Khmer chess match that even our very own chess grandmaster Eugene Torre hasn’t heard of from Adam.

Definitely, Cambodia will dominate both sports, with 21 gold medals being staked in Kun Bokator and six gold medals in Ouk Chatrang.

And in gymnastics, our world champion Carlos Yulo will be gold-starved as only four gold medals—two for each gender—are at stake in artistic gymnastics, which is Yulo’s forte. Said discipline dangles eight golds in men’s contests and six golds in women’s tiffs in both the Olympics and world championships.

Cambodia is likewise eyeing a bumper gold harvest in the pool competitions by introducing unknown vovinam and fin swimming with 30 and 24 events staked, respectively.

And so, to do away with another SEA Games charade that gives every host country a wide latitude to do things as it pleases, why don’t we just hand the overall trophy to Cambodia before the Games begin?

That’d simplify matters.