Press Release
March 3, 2016


Senator Grace Poe yesterday said the Philippines' hosting of the Southeast Asian Games in 2019 could be an opportune time to start institutionalizing the number of Olympic events that would help level the playing field in the biennial regional meet.

And if all 11-member nations of the SEA Games Federation (SEAGF) would agree, Poe said it would be for their common good as it would help strengthen their chances at winning Olympic medals. No SEA Games-member country won a gold medal in the last Olympics in London in 2012, and Poe said the level of competition in the SEA Games have somehow been diminished by the present SEAGF practice in the selection of sports to be played in each edition of the Games.

SEA Games hosts have a say in the selection of disciplines and have often inserted non-Olympic events to strengthen their chances at higher placings in the medal tally. But Poe said this practice has weakened SEA Games countries in the higher, stronger field of the Olympics.

"We all know that our sports leaders have long been making this appeal to prioritize Olympic sports in the SEA Games' roster of events. With the Philippines hosting the Games in 2019, government should also extend all efforts to support their call and maybe help institutionalize this practice which will benefit the rest of the region eventually," said Poe, a taekwondo blackbelter.

"Maganda din na sa Pilipinas magsimula ang panawagan na tigilan na ang pagka-kanya-kanya at simulan na natin magtulungan bilang isang rehiyon. Imagine Southeast Asia becoming a force in sports in the future. This would also help fortify the Philippines' chance at winning our very first gold Olympic medal, hindi ba?" enthused Poe.

The last time a SEA Games-member country won an Olympic gold medal was in 2008 in Beijing, when Jongjit Jongjohor claimed the flyweight mint in boxing and Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon bagged the gold in the 53-kg category of women's weightlifting for Thailand. It was an improvement from the one gold medal won by the tandem of Hendra Sityawan and Markis Kido for Indonesia the men's doubles in badminton, a sport in which Indonesia is considered a powerhouse competitor. But in the last Summer Games in London, Thailand only managed to win two silver medals and a bronze, Indonesia and Malaysia had a silver and bronze each, while Singapore had two bronze medals.

The last time the Philippines won an Olympic medal was in 1996 in Atlanta, courtesy of Mansueto Velasco in the men's light-flyweight division of boxing. It was the Philippines' second Olympic silver medal that followed the feat by the late featherweight Anthony Villanueva in 1964 in Tokyo. The Philippines has yet to win a gold medal in the Olympics.

Malaysia is set to host next year's SEA Games and member countries are still discussing the roster of events to be calendared.

The SEA Games Federation is made up of the Olympic councils of the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

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