Sinagpore's chef de mission (CDM) Nicholas Fang says the selection of sports for the 28th SEA Games was done with the aim of promoting sport in general, and not just with winning medals in mind.
He was responding to remarks made by Sieh Kok Chi, secretary general of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), who had chided the Republic for being "too generous" to their regional rivals, particularly Thailand, who topped the medal table at the recently concluded event.
The Thais bagged 95 gold medals, 11 more than hosts Singapore, who were second.
Fang said: "We try and look for the best situation for everyone. Some events such as sailing favoured us, and we do try to push a bit harder, but our ultimate aim is to help in the growth of sports in South-east Asia, to ensure that no country is being shut out."
Co-CDM Tan Eng Liang explained how the organisers went about deciding the menu on offer.
He said: "We first got approval for 30 out of the 36 sports. They belonged to the categories of compulsory sports such as aquatics and athletics, Olympic sports and traditional sports that were not in the Olympics but played before at SEA Games level.
"For the remaining six sports, we took in the requests of other countries. For instance, for petanque, 10 countries lobbied for it, and even though we were not strong in it (Singapore did not win any medals), we still had to add it in.
"Boxing and tennis were also among the six which were popular among the other countries and even though we did not fare well in them, we had to be fair in our selection of sports and also take into consideration (other nations') opinions."
Ng Ser Miang, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) member from Singapore who is also its finance commission chair, agreed with Fang.
He said: "These Games should showcase the true spirit of sports and also try to inculcate the right values."
However, he felt that a balance between traditional and Olympic sports is still required in the final decision of which sports to include.
He told The Straits Times in a telephone interview from Norway: "The SEA Games provide a platform for young athletes to upgrade their standards and also make friends with those in the SEA countries.
"It is a friendship Games but also one where athletes are doing their best for their country, family and also themselves.
"There needs to be a balance of both traditional and Olympic sports as local sports are important to our people and the country as well.
"The SEA Games should help athletes improve and do better at the Asian and Olympic level.
"However, we cannot ignore the need for traditional sports that are unique to us."
His remarks were echoed by fellow IOC member Rita Subowo of Indonesia, who was also present at the Games.
While she declined to comment on Sieh's remarks, she too urged for more Olympic disciplines to be featured in future Games.
She added: "I hope to see more Olympic sports being hosted instead of traditional ones, especially since the South-east Asian countries lack medals in the Olympics.
"This will serve as a good stepping stone for the region.
"We also need to try to include popular sports in every country... popular sports in Indonesia such as beach volleyball and karate were left out."
This article was first published on July 02, 2015.
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