Team Philippines during the opening ceremonies of the 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila last December
Philippines' SEAG title repeat try in peril as next host Vietnam trims events
Joey Villar ( - July 12, 2020 - 3:22pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ bid for a back-to-back overall championship in the Southeast Asian Games suffered a massive blow as 2001 host Vietnam sliced the number of sports events to 36 from a record-breaking 56 when the former hosted it the last time out a year ago.

Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino on Sunday received a letter from host Hanoi disclosing the number of disciplines to be played, including centerpiece athletics and aquatics’ swimming and diving as compulsory events.

Archery, badminton, 3x3 and 5x5 basketball, billiards and snooker, boxing, canoe-kayak, chess, cycling, dancesport, fencing, football and fiutsal, golf, gymnastics, aerobic, handball, judo, karate, muay, pencak silat, petanque, rowing, sepaktakraw, shooting, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, indoor and beach volleyball, weightlifting, wrestling and wushu were also penciled in Hanoi.

Other events are fin swimming, bodybuilding, kurash, kickboxing and vovinam.

If this list will remain, the Filipinos will lose a total of 58 golds — arnis (14 golds), skaetbaording (6), obstacle course (6), jiujitsu (5), e-sports (3), sailing (3), soft tennis (3), triathlon (3), sambo (2), surfing (2), wakeboarding (2), windsurfing (2), modern pentathlon (2), baseball (1), duathlon (1), rugby (1), softball (1) and squash (1).

The country ran away with the overall crown with a historic 149 gold-medal haul, but the recent reduction may just make its campaign bleaker in Hanoi.

Tolentino, however, refused to make forecasts this early saying he still awaiting the number of events or medals at stake.

“It’s difficult to make projections until we see the events of every sports,” said Tolentino.

Tolentino, who also heads PhilCycling, said he would lobby for events where the country has a chance to rake in the medals.

“We will lobby for those events that we’re strong at but were not there like arnis, triathlon,” said Tolentino. “Other nations may lobby for sambo so I might include in the appeal obstacle course.”

Vietnam, which placed second to the Philippines in the last SEAG with 98 golds, made the decision to slice the number events after it reduced their budget to half due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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