The National Olympic Committee of Cambodia will lobby hard over the next few weeks for the inclusion of the Kingdom’s most productive medal-earning sport, petanque, along with vovinam and tennis after the disciplines were left out of the initial list of 30 preferred sports for the 2019 SEA Games in the PhilippinesThe move was recommended by the Executive Committee of the SEA Games Federation for approval by the SEA Games Federation Council.
Chairman of the SEAGF Executive Committee Dr Celso L Dayrit called on the council to approve the list with immediate effect, even as the Olympic Council of Malaysia joined Cambodia in calling for the restoration of several sports axed from the previous edition, one the host country dominated with an all-time high of 145 gold medals.
The 30th SEA Games are to be held from November 30 to December 10 next year.
While Cambodia has scooped multiple golds and a clutch of silver and bronze medals from the sport and has produced petanque world champions over the past few years, vovinam has also contributed to golden glory, most recently at the World Championships.
Tennis hasn’t missed a medal since the 2007 Games in Thailand, bar 2013 when Myanmar for the first time in history dropped it only for it to be restored by Singapore in 2015, with Malaysia retaining it last year in Kuala Lumpur.
According to the secretary-general of the NOCC, Vath Chamroeun, who attended the two-day Manila deliberations, there is a provision for additional sports to be included if the sponsor of that request is backed by the mandatory support of at least four fellow member nations.
“Based on the representation made by the Philippines Olympic Committee, more disciplines can be added in line with suggestions from other NOCs before June 13. We intend to rally support for the inclusion of petanque, vovinam, e-sport, indoor hockey and tennis,” Chamroeun told The Post on Sunday.
Among the sports dropped from Kuala Lumpur 2017 are hockey, table tennis, rugby, petanque, lawn bowls, netball, cricket, water skiing and track cycling.
As hosts, the Philippines have brought in disciplines not contested last year, like baseball, judo and jujitsu, wrestling, dancesport and arnis, a Philippine martial art.
Badminton, originally dropped from the initial list, was reinstated following strong objections from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar and Thailand.
Fed confident of U-turn
As soon as word reached Tennis Cambodia that the game found no place in the original list, its secretary-general, Tep Rithivit, announced his intention to rally support among like-minded federations to push for its retention.
“For the Philippines, one of the top medal contenders, to axe tennis is a big surprise.
“I am confident that countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia will get on board before the June 13 deadline and get tennis back into the competition,” Rithivit told The Post.