THE Sea Games should not be called the Sea Games any more.
The biennial Games has become a joke over the last few decades as the host country is allowed to include and drop events to boost its gold medal chances.
For many, the Sea Games is known as the “syok sendiri” competition.
Winning the overall crown does not necessarily mean progress for the champion in any way.
So, whatever happens in the Philippines, it will not reflect the true picture of a country’s strength in sports.
At the 2017 Kuala Lumpur Sea Games, Malaysia, as expected, were crowned the overall champions with a haul of 145 gold, 92 silver and 86 bronze.
Malaysia, of course, included sports and events they were good in to achieve their mission of winning the overall crown.
Now, it is the Philippines’ turn to become overall champions. Known for their prowess in basketball, boxing, cue sports and tennis, the Filipinos are hosting 530 events in 56 sports, making it the biggest Sea Games ever.
And they are expecting 220 gold from their athletes this time.The host has introduced new sports like underwater hockey, sambo, kurash and arnis while dropping many other sports, to ensure they achieve their target.
The Malaysian contingent, comprising 773 athletes, aim to achieve their biggest Sea Games haul outside Kuala Lumpur by targeting 70 gold, 51 silver and 105 bronze from 52 sports.
A total of 396 Malaysian athletes will make their Sea Games debut, reflecting the country’s seriousness in nurturing talents for the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.
Malaysia came up with the target after taking into account several factors, including the axing of some sports and events and the expected bias judging in subjective sports.
Several parties have hit out at the Malaysian contingent for not setting a higher target despite being the defending champions. However, the concerned parties were only being realistic in their targets.
The Sea Games officially opened yesterday but it hasn’t been so rosy for the host over the last few days.
Logistical glitches, cries of corruption and last minute rush job at venues had threatened to mar the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th Sea Games.
Typhoon Kammuri is also blowing towards the Sea Games. And it is expected to hit Manila and Luzon, affecting some of the outdoor venues.
The organisers are prepared to weather the storm but some events could be delayed for a few hours or a day due to the typhoon. However, it is unlikely to affect the running of the Sea Games, which will end on Dec 11.
Today, Malaysia aim to win gold medals in wushu, ice skating, polo and dance sports.
Wushu exponent Wong Weng Son is the favourite in the men’s changquan while Julian Yee is leading the field in ice skating.
Although Weng Son and Julian are hot favourites in their respective events, bias judging could deny them the top of the podium.
The polo team will take on the Philippines in the final while Sam Jee Lek is Malaysia’s hope in the boys’ breakdance.