bambol tolentino
POC President Bambol Tolentino said the leaner number of sports in Vietnam’s hosting of SEA Games could mean a tougher mission for the Filipino athletes. (MB Photo / Alvin Kasiban)

Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino said it would be a tough mission for the Filipino athletes to defend the overall championship in the 31st Southeast Asian Games.

Tolentino cited the number of sports that host Vietnam initially proposed for the biennial meet, which was far lesser than the previous edition that the country hosted in 2019.

From 56 sports, Vietnam only lined up 46 including obscure sports like kurash, vovinam and xiangqi, also called Chinese chess.

“Definitely mahihirapan tayo sa overall because of that issue with the number of sports,” Tolentino said in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum held online.

“Siyempre Vietnam will do what it can to have that overall champion.”

Though the sports lineup has yet to be finalized, Tolentino said he is already preparing a strategy to help the athletes retain that overall crown.

“It’s too early lang to reveal that strategy. Ma-finalize lang yung sports and events, we can proceed with the planning,” he said.

The SEAG Federation is expected to meet in November to discuss the appeals of member-nations for inclusion of several sports.

Apart from waiting for the final list of sports, Tolentino is also looking forward to the budget hearing of the Philippine Sports Commission.

“I will ask the PSC if it (budget) will be a big factor for the SEAG next year. If their budget request will be enough. Baka kasi because of the budget, lumagapak tayo from overall to… huwag naman seventh, sixth or what,” he said.

The country won the SEAG overall title in 2019 by reaping 149 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze medals. Vietnam was at far second with 98 golds, 85 silvers and 105 bronzes.

Source: Manila Bulletin (