The president of the Asian Tennis Federation, Anil Kumar Khanna, has appealed to the Olympic Committee of Malaysia on behalf of the national federations and players from the Southeast Asia region to reconsider its preliminary decision to exclude the men’s and women’s team events along with the mixed doubles from the 2017 SEA Games to be held in Kuala Lumpur.
The technical committee of the OCM has shortlisted 34 disciplines comprising 342 events for the biennial games scheduled to be held from August 19 to 31 next year.
But in a move that has drawn flak from several member nations, including Tennis Cambodia, the OCM has announced that it would drop three of the seven medal events traditionally held in tennis and retain only the men’s and women’s singles and doubles competitions.
While the president of OCM, Tunku Imran Tuanku Jaafar, has categorically stated that appeals from member countries would be heard before taking a final decision, the tennis community is losing no time in putting pressure on Malaysia to restore tennis to its full complement of seven events.
The final list of disciplines and events will be confirmed at the SEA Games Federation’s meeting in Kuala Lumpur on July 13 and 14.
Myanmar was roundly condemned for completely dropping tennis in 2013 for the first time in the history of the SEA Games.
Singapore, however, brought tennis back into the fold last year and Malaysia’s decision to downsize the sport has now been criticised by Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos among others as detrimental to the development of the game.
“The SEA Games are a very important component in the development of professional tennis players in the region and provides them with the much needed competitive structure to succeed at their game,’’ Khanna said in his communication to the OCM.
Secretary-general of Tennis Cambodia Tep Rithivit said: “The dropping of the men’s team event from the SEA Games will be a big blow to countries in the region like Cambodia that are part of the Davis Cup cycle.’’
“Every two years, the SEA Games provide a perfect platform for developing and testing national team contenders so the right formations can be configured for bigger international events,’’ he added.
“Team competitions are vital for blending spirits and player bonding, which are so essential for the healthy growth of the game.’’