More SEA Games tweaks could hurt Thailand

More SEA Games tweaks could hurt Thailand

Host Cambodia stands to benefit but frequent changes bad for athletes, says Thai delegation chief

The Morodok Techo National Stadium will be the main venue for the 2023 SEA Games that will be held in May in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Photo: Reuters)
The Morodok Techo National Stadium will be the main venue for the 2023 SEA Games that will be held in May in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Photo: Reuters)

Changes to some events at the 32nd SEA Games, set to take place from May 5 to 17 in Cambodia, could result in an advantage for the host nation, says the chief of the Thai delegation to the biennial sporting event.

Thailand has already expressed its unhappiness with its neighbour over a kickboxing event that Cambodia insists on calling Kun Khmer instead of Muay Thai. But other changes are also in the works.

Cambodia has announced a reduction of total events from 37 to 36, with 581 gold medals up for grabs rather than 608.

However, observers have noted that changes in the regulations could block some nations from competing in some events.

In badminton, the host has added an eighth competition category in addition to the usual five for singles and two for teams. A mixed teams’ category will debut this year but will be restricted to tier 2 competitors from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Brunei and Timor-Leste. Tier 1 nations including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore will unable to field competitors.

In the three-women category of long boating, regulations have barred Thailand but allowed Cambodia, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei, Timor-Leste and Malaysia to compete.

“These changes could give Cambodia an overall advantage, and the country has submitted further alterations to the games’ technical handbook for review,” said Thana Chaiprasit, head of the Thai delegation.

With the host ready to add or remove competitions at any time, it is difficult for athletes to prepare properly for their events, he said.

Cambodia should finalise all decisions by the end of February for the benefit of all participants, he added.

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