SEVERAL sports disciplines excluded from the provisional list released by Vietnam for its hosting of the 31st Southeast Asian Games could stymie the competitive bid of the Philippines in the meet set Nov. 21 to Dec. 2, 2021 in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.
The Vietnamese hosts released a provisional list of 36 sports during the SEA Games Federation Council online meeting last Thursday that included Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino.
Dropped from the calendar of disciplines were the sports of arnis, obstacle course racing, modern pentathlon, skateboarding and triathlon, all major contributors to the country’s harvest of 149 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze medals last year en route to the overall championship, its second since 2005.
All five sports accounted for a total of 26 mints for the Filipinos in the 30th SEA Games.
Also out was e-sports (video games), which made its SEA Games debut last year and produced three gold medals for the Philippines while billiards and snooker could have more snooker events since the Vietnamese are more at home in the sport. Filipino cue aces bagged four billiards gold medals last December.
On the other hand, the Vietnamese could strike it big in their ethnic martial art of vovinam, fin swimming, body building and kurash, which they have included as their prerogative as hosts.
In Vietnam’s inaugural staging of the SEA Games in 2003, the hosts, banking on their windfall from fin swimming and vovinam, romped away with the overall title with a tally of 158 gold, 91 silver and 91 bronze medals.
Tolentino, however, noted the calendar of disciplines “is not set in stone,” and that the issue could still be taken up by the SEA Games Federation council in its next virtual session on July 20 to 21.
Tolentino said that Vietnam trimmed the number of events to cut hosting costs in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the slash in the number of sports, Tolentino is keen on local bets battling Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand in for overall honors in Hanoi. He is lobbying for the national athletes to resume actual training once government restrictions are eased.
Leading the list of disciplines in the regional games the Vietnamese are hosting for the second time are the mandatory sports and centerpiece events of athletics and swimming.
Other disciplines set to be held that are usually played in the Olympics and the Asian Games are archery, basketball (5×5 and 3×3), billiards and snooker, boxing, canoeing and kayaking, chess (including the Chinese version of xiangqi), cycling (road and mountain bike), dance sport, fencing, football and futsal (indoor football), gymnastics (artistic and rhythmic), handball (indoor and beach),judo, karate, muay thai, pencak silat, petanque, rowing, sepak takraw, shooting (rifle, pistol, shotgun), table tennis, taekwondo, lawn tennis, volleyball (indoor and beach, wrestling (Greco-Roman and freestyle) and wushu.
The proposed list is a huge drop from the 56 disciplines the Philippines staged when it conducted the regional meet last December.
Tolentino is hoping that some of the sports that delivered for the country then such as arnis, obstacle course racing and modern pentathlon, which accounted for 14, six and two gold medals, respectively, could be included in the next edition of the games.
Also noticeable in the provisional list is the absence of triathlon, an event that Filipinos have dominated by sweeping the men’s and women’s individual divisions since the 2015 Singapore Games.