Arnis a regular sport in SEA Games?

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    PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee chairman Steve Hontiveros wants the national sport of each country in the 11-nation Southeast Asian Games to be included as a permanent medal sport as a way of “strengthening family ties” among the competing nations.

    “This has been my dream for a long time and I want the national sport of each member country in the Southeast Asian Games to be a permanent part of the games,” Hontiveros, a member of the SEA Games Federation Council, said yesterday.

    “This is one way of strengthening the family ties among the member countries in the SEA Games.”

    The veteran sports hand said he would push for the plan during the next meeting of the federation, which he sees as a means of boosting the chances of the Filipino ethnic sport of arnis in being included in the 31st edition of the meet two years from now in Hanoi, Vietnam.

    “My idea is to limit arnis, and the national sports of the other countries, to three divisions each in the men and women’s class,” Hontiveros said. “We cannot have as many as we had in the last SEA Games.”

    He pointed out that Myanmar, which last hosted the Games in 2013, is also keen on having its national team sport of chinlone to be included once again in the games while other countries could also push for their respective national sports as permanent fixtures.

    “This way the athletes of these sports will always have to look forward to every two years and the countries that spend for them can gain something in return and not waste their resources,” Hontiveros explained. “This will also give other countries outside from the host to prepare for these sports on a regular basis.”

    After an absence of 14 years, Pinoy arnis bets made a golden return to the Games last month, bagging 10 mints out of the 20 events in the first day of action and, together with dancesport, sparked the country’s overall title drive in the regional sports showcase.

    While the Vietnamese bagged four gold medals in the discipline, there was no guarantee that it would be included in the calendar of disciplines in 2021. The Vietnamese have announced that they intend to limit the number to 36 sports, down from 56 in the last one.

    Among the sports certain to be included in the next edition are the Vietnamese martial art of vovinam and fin swimming, which constituted the bulk of the 158 mints they won in clinching overall honors the last time they hosted the event in 2003. – Bong Pedralvez