Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Philippines demand changes to SEA Games | Asia Pacific

COJUANGCO: Well, I think the media has overreacted to our position, because the South East Asian Games has always been a friendly gathering of the 11 countries and we have just expressed our feelings that South East Asian Games have to be sort of rehabilitated or something, because of the fact that as pointed out in the last meeting of the South East Asian Games Federation Council is that the South East Asian countries have been falling down in the number of medals being won in the Olympics every Olympic year, because of the fact that we have not focused really on our Olympic sports in the South East Asian Games itself.
It's gotten worse to the fact that in Myanmar now, there are for example our tennis president of our Federation here says there are 14 events to be contested and of the 14, he's only familiar with four and the other ten are not that familiar. So what we are trying to do is to get other countries' opinion on the matter. And I've just arrived from Lausanne, where there was a meeting of the Association of National Olympic Committee. I had spoken to a  few of the leaders of the South East Asian countries and they had the same feeling.  So I asked a few of them that I talked to as said how about getting together and discussing this, not necessarily to affect the games in Myanmar, but for future references and everyone I talked to seemed to be in agreement that something has to be done. So in the latter part of November this year, the Philippines will be hosting a Centennial Festival of Asian Sports, because in 1913, the first international sports competition was held here in the Philippines and we have been tasked to host that kind of celebration...and I asked them maybe you people can come a day earlier than our convention itself and discuss this matter and all those that I talked to anyway were willing to talk about it and they agreed with my position.
EWART: Can I ask therefore, because of what you were saying there the fact that you've just come back from this meeting of the Olympic Associations in Switzerland. I mean has your position perhaps changed since you've had those informal talks, because certainly the message that was coming out of the Philippines was that you were talking of sending a much smaller team to the South East Asian Games in Myanmar than usual and the Chairman of the Philippines Sports Commission, as I say, was suggesting that you might pull out of the organisation altogether. So it seems as though things have calmed down maybe in the last 24 hours?
COJUANGCO: No, necessarily calmed down. We are still going to be sending a small delegation. We still have to express our position that we have to do some changes and but as far as completely pulling out, I think that's been taken out of context wherever they got the idea of us pulling out, because we do belong to the South East Asian Games Federation and there are just some media releases here that have sort of had that idea of us boycotting. Because the big concern here is, of course, is that we have been, the medal tally, the gold medal tally of the Philippines have been going down as well. So I think there are more people concerned about how we were going to be performing. The fact is like this,  whenever  we send a delegation to the South East Asian Games, over 50 per cent of the people that compete in the South East Asian Games come home with medals and as far as I'm concerned as President of the Philippine Olympic Committee, I'm very satisfied with the performance of our athletes. The only problem is we are not getting into the gold medal circle and so we're doing something about that.
Now, we have actually invited one of your people, one Australian to come here and help us go into the scientific way of conditioning and strengthening our athletes. Because we do have athletes that have natural ability, but at the moment, it looks like natural ability isn't enough to give you, win you a gold medal and probably win you a bronze and a silver, but not a gold medal.
EWART: And presumably in the case of the games in Myanmar in December, they've included a number of indigenous sports, martial arts, which I freely admit I've never heard of called vovinam  and Kempo. I assume there aren't too many gold medal prospects for the Philippines there?
COJUANGCO: Well, we've already been entered those games, that's why we will try and take some kind of position to get the attention of other countries and apparently whatever our (word indistinct) come up with has reached their shores also and that's why the people that I talked to were more than willing to sit down and basically and correct the situation.
EWART: So is it a case of having to make a decision as to where the SEA Games goes in future. Is it going to be a Sporting/Cultural Festival or is it going to have to be something which is more firmly focused on Olympic sports as you've suggested to try and help get a better medal return for the South East Asian countries, when the big event, the Olympics comes around?
COJUANGCO: Well, I've only been a member, I mean a really active participant of the South East Asian Council since 2004, when elected as President of the Philippines Olympic Committee. And from the beginning, I was made to understand that the idea behind the South East Asian Games is to have a some kind of an experience for our athletes in preparation for the Asian Games and for the Olympics, that's why we do hold it every year, every other year..as opposed to the Asian Games goes for four years, and the Olympics for four years.   So we always have the South East Asian Games where our athletes can do some experiment or exercises that will help them in their performance in the Asian Games and the Olympics if they do qualify.

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