No table tennis, gymnastics and badminton for this year's SEA Games
Under the SEA Games Federation Charter, each edition of the biennial event must consist of a minimum of 22 sports. -TNP
SINGAPORE - The four sports accounted for almost a fifth of the 42 gold medals Singapore won at the last South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Indonesia two years ago.
But in a surprising turn of events, badminton, gymnastics, table tennis and tennis - all Olympic sports - have been dropped from the SEA Games in Myanmar this December.
The four sports were among the 31 confirmed at the first SEA Games Council meeting held in the Myanmarese capital Naypyidaw last July, with the inclusion of seven sports - fencing, fin swimming, hockey, petanque, soft tennis, tarung derajat (an Indonesian martial art) and vovinam (a Vietnamese martial art) - to be discussed in a meeting next week.
The various National Olympic Committees received an updated list earlier this week in preparation for the meeting, with the four Olympic sports conspicuously absent.
Singapore National Olympic Council secretary general Chris Chan has sent the local organisers a letter on this matter, with several other countries lending their support.
Chan said: "Nothing has been finalised yet. As with many previous Games, there's always room for discussions and I brought the matter to the attention of the local organisers, which elicited responses from other countries as well.
"I am sure at the end of the day good sense will prevail - we don't need to include all Olympic sports in the SEA Games; we are not organising a mini-Olympics after all.
"But it would make sense to include Olympic sports that Asean countries are good in - weight-lifting (for Thailand) and table tennis (for Singapore) for example."
Under the SEA Games Federation Charter, each edition of the biennial event must consist of a minimum of 22 sports.
Athletics and aquatics are compulsory - they come under Category 1 sports, while a minimum of 14 sports contested in the Asian and Olympic Games (Category 2) must also be included.
There can be a maximum of eight sports that are not listed under the first two categories.
This includes sports like fin swimming, petanque and water skiing.
Badminton, gymnastics, table tennis and tennis were Category 2 sports on the initial list.
It is not known which sports have replaced the four.
The upcoming meeting will be held to finalise the sports and the number of events for the Games, which starts on Dec 11 this year.
The Nation, a newspaper in Thailand, reported that Thailand will also voice their opposition at the upcoming meeting.
It quoted Olympic Committee of Thailand (OCT) president Gen Yuthasak Sasiprapa as saying: "We will firm up our disagreement with the decision Myanmar has made at the meeting."
Added Charoen Wattanasin, OCT vice-president and a member of the SEA Games Federation Council: "Singapore has also sent a letter urging Myanmar to change the decision.
"But instead, Myanmar has decided to add some 17 domestic events and non-Olympic sports to the Games."
Understandably, members of the affected sports here are upset about the decision.
At the last Games, Singapore swept all five gold medals on offer in table tennis, while shuttler Fu Mingtian won a historic gold for the Republic in the women's singles and the women's artistic gymnastics team struck gold as well.
Singapore Table Tennis Association president and MP for Nee Soon South Lee Bee Wah said: "It is a shame to drop as many as five (including hockey) Olympic sports from this year's SEA Games.
"I hope the SNOC will lobby hard on behalf of Singapore to have some, if not all, of the sports reinstated."
Veteran gymnast Lim Heem Wei added: "It's quite sad because these are all our core sports, especially table tennis, and we would lose out in the medal count if that happens.
"But we haven't gotten any official notification about this yet and we will just keep training.
Hopefully, we will be able to go for the Games."
To make things worse, The New Paper understands that bowling will not be offered at the biennial Games this year.
The sport accounted for three Singapore golds in Jakarta two years ago.
Aquatics (swimming, diving and water polo), athletics
Archery, badminton*, basketball, billiards & snooker, boxing, canoe, cycling, equestrian, football (including futsal), golf, gymnastics*, judo, karate, rowing, sepak takraw (including chinlone), sailing, shooting, table tennis*, taekwondo, tennis*, volleyball, weightlifting, wrestling and wushu
Bodybuilding, chess, muay, pencak silat and traditional boat race
To be decided: Fencing, fin swimming, hockey, petanque, soft tennis, tarung derajat and vovinam * Badminton, gymnastics, table tennis and tennis have been omitted from the latest list sent to National Olympic Committees earlier this week. It is not known what sports have been added to the list.
Gymnastics: 1 gold (women's artistic team), 2 silvers (pommel horse, floor exercise), 1 bronze (women's artistic individual)
Table Tennis: 5 golds (mixed doubles, men's doubles, women's doubles, men's singles, women's singles), 4 silvers (mixed doubles, men's doubles, women's singles, men's singles)
Badminton: 1 gold (women's singles)
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