SNOC gives karate the chop over fraternity's infighting

SNOC gives karate the chop over fraternity's infighting

They lobbied long and hard for their sport to be included in next year's SEA Games in Singapore.

But not only were the karate officials' hopes dashed yesterday at the SEA Games Federation council meeting, but they also came under fire for their splintered local community.

The final line-up of sports included six additional ones from the 30 that were decided at last December's SEA Games. The new additions are rowing, equestrian, floorball, boxing, petanque and volleyball.

Karate officials had hoped to be among the six, and lobbied hard to be included. They had offered to shoulder organising costs, by providing technical officials and equipment.

Representatives from the sport, including World Karate Federation president Antonio Espinos, even came to Singapore to make their case.

Said Dr Tan Eng Liang, the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) vice-president: "They started lobbying in Myanmar. I was very impressed when the president of their international federation, and presidents of the Asian and ASEAN federations flew to Singapore to lobby for the sport.

"(Karate) is, to me, the most lobbied activity."

However, SNOC still decided not to endorse the sport as it did not meet the its selection criteria.

Said Dr Tan: "We have told the international federation and everybody that the Singapore Karate-do Federation (SKF) is in a quandary. There are five or six factions within the karate fraternity.

"How can we organise karate in Singapore, when the karate federation hasn't got the support? They are one out of six."

In 2011, the SKF dismissed seven of its affiliate clubs for defamation. The move initially meant up to 1,000 karatekas were unable to represent Singapore as their clubs were no longer affiliates of the national sports association.

Other problems Dr Tan highlighted include the SKF's inability to submit relevant paperwork to Sport Singapore for funding, as well as the lack of an open selection criteria for the national squad.

However, the SKF has strongly refuted Dr Tan's comments last night.

Said honorary secretary Victor Thum: "The sport cannot be described as (being) in a quandary. Disciplinary processes were installed and seven clubs were expelled for breach of the rules.

"This is done after due process of law, and ample opportunity was given to these expelled clubs to answer the charges."

He added that selection for the national team is held annually, with members of the seven expelled clubs being invited to take part since 2011.

However, there have been no representatives from the ousted clubs since the expulsion.

Said Thum: "SKF is disappointed that the sport will not be included in the SEA Games in 2015. It will nonetheless continue to work hard despite the many difficulties and the lack of support given to the sport."

This article was published on April 30 in The Straits Times.

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