SINGAPORE – With less than a year to go until the 2023 SEA Games in Phnom Penh, the SEA Games Federation is due to meet in a few weeks to finalize the list of sports and events that will be contested in the Cambodian capital.
This final list for the May 5-17 event may raise some eyebrows, with a number of sports that have featured regularly in recent editions of the biennial event set to miss out.
At the last SEA Games Federation meeting at the Sokha Hotel in Phnom Penh last week (July 11-13), a tentative list of 40 sports included mainstays like athletics and aquatics, water- polo being back after missing the last edition in Hanoi in May. 2022, which had been postponed for seven months due to the pandemic.
But other sports like bowling and shooting – which are traditionally medal-winning for the Singapore team – are in limbo.
Bowling has featured in seven of the last nine SEA Games since 2005, while shooting has featured in all 31 editions of the SEA Games.
The composition of the sports program of each Games is decided by the host country and approved by the SEA Games Federation and, therefore, the sports and types of events vary between the different editions of the Games.
Singapore Bowling Federation President Valerie Teo told The Straits Times on Wednesday July 20 that the association had “no indication” of a late inclusion of the sport for next year’s SEA Games and added that it “seems unlikely”.
Singapore was the top bowling nation at the SEA Games in Hanoi, winning three gold, one silver and three bronze in six events. The Republic keglers had won 15 gold medals in the sport’s last five appearances at the Games.
“We are disappointed not to be able to compete in Cambodia, but we recognize that it is the prerogative of the host country as to which sports will be included in the Games,” said Teo.
“Our training plans continue as we prepare our bowlers for further major tournaments, with the Asian Championships (in Hong Kong in January) and the Asian Youth Championships on the near horizon.”
For shooting, there is a glimmer of hope, with organizers in Phnom Penh saying it is among five sports ‘still under consideration’ – the others being archery, chess, gymnastics rhythm and the martial art of kurash.
However, sources tell ST that the host country does not have the necessary facilities or sufficient technical expertise in staff, such as licensed judges and referees.
Singapore Shooting Association president Michael Vaz said he was skeptical of his inclusion, and added that the association had “delisted” him and was aiming instead higher.
“We are focused on getting an Olympic medal,” he said.
“It (whether or not there is a shootout at the SEA Games) has no bearing on our mission. Our girls came back with two gold medals (at the last ISSF World Cup in South Korea) and the World Cup is important because that’s what you need to win to compete in the Olympics… We started our plan for the Olympics in November last year, and we’re on track. “