Friday, December 2, 2005

Same old tired story ruining the Games (02/12/2005)

Publication : MM
Date : 02/12/2005
Headline : Same old tired story ruining the Games

THE script gets eerily familiar as one tires from the common theme of
biased judging when host nations grab the lion's share of gold medals in
the SEA Games.
Thanks to the medal harvest, the norm is for the host country to emerge
as the overall champions in the medal tally.
More often than not, the perception is they garner bountiful medals
through biased judging, which has become a common topic in subjective
sports like combat sports, diving and now, dancesport.
It has been no different at the 23rd SEA Games in the Philippines.
The turn of events has even prompted the Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin
Shinawatra, to cry foul.
Short of naming the Philippines, he was quoted as being disappointed by
the controversy in the SEA Games and might raise the issue on the
sidelines of the Association of South-east Asian Nations summit in
Malaysia this month.
Earlier, the Vietnamese delegation were purported to have made similar
complaints through their Press reports but later claimed their comments
were misconstrued by Vietnam's chef-de-mission, Nguyen Hong Minh.
Vietnam, who hosted the Games for the first time two years ago, emerged
champions with a total of 156 gold medals while Malaysia scooped 111 gold
in KL 2001.
The Games has turned into a farce and the blame should rest on the SEA
Games Federation (SEAGF), who always say they want to restrict the Games
to Olympic events to keep them manageable.
But it never happens as politics rule the day with the hosts given the
free rein to include traditional sports which favour them.
There appears also some unwritten agreement among some combat sports,
or sports where a certain nation or only a few dominate, to ensure the
medals are equally distributed with the host given a slight edge.
It even occurred at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games, where Malaysia were
denied several certain gold medals in the first few days of the taekwondo
events, but won a few after a Malaysian team official disclosed that day
was Malaysia's turn to pick up the medals.
The international judges, who are brought by the respective sports, are
not exactly free from affiliations as well.
These so called "neutral judges" are well looked after by the hosts and
naturally they would give something in return.
In all fairness it would be grossly unfair to say the hosts are doing
well just because they are given preferential treatment by the judges.
On Wednesday, Filipino long-distance runner Eduardo Buenavista, was
disqualified in the 5,000m for illegal manoeuvring on the home stretch
against Thai rival Boonthung Srising.
Perhaps, there is still honour in the Games, which is fast becoming a

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