Myanmar Accused of Cherry Picking Events at SEA Games

By iSportconnect | January 29, 2013

Myanmar has been accused of cherry-picking events to boost home athletes, after tennis and gymnastics were excluded from the Southeast Asian Games (SEA).

Local events such as chinlone and bodybuilding have been selected over Olympic disciplines, causing a negative reaction from regional neighbours.

Htay Aung, the Sports Ministry Official said: “There were many requests to add and remove (sports). After discussion, we removed some and also added some.

“We also should not include some sports which our country cannot win,” he added, heightening the belief that Myanmar were excluding events to give themselves a greater chance of winning more medals.

Chaiyapak Siriwat, Vice President of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand responded: “Tennis is an Olympic sport which should be in the Games but Myanmar said they don’t have courts.

“Personally, I think they don’t have tennis athletes.”

Hockey, table tennis and badminton were amongst the sports to be reinstated into the competition after talks between officials and the 11 competing countries were held in Naypyidaw, and Chris Chan, Secretary General of the Singapore National Olympic Council argued it was Myanmar’s right to choose.

Chan said: “We argued that Southeast Asians were good at certain sports, and they understood that. Gymnastics was dropped because it requires a lot of apparatus, and tennis, well, we don’t do that well in that in Southeast Asia.”

It is not the first time a host has been accused of such actions and the inclusion of niche sports is frequent. The hosts normally top the SEA Games medals tally.