January 14, 2022
MANILA – Duplicating its 2019 success in the upcoming Vietnam Southeast Asian Games would admittedly be difficult for Philippines after its preparations were put on hold due to the increasing COVID-19 cases in the country.
In an interview with Noli Eala’s Power & Play program, Philippine Olympic Committee President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said training for the regional event has been a challenge after the government placed Metro Manila under Alert Level 3 effectively stopping contact sports.
Tolentino added that the quickest way to continue the athletes’ training is to travel outside Metro Manila and train in areas under Alert Level 2.
“Our training got delayed then got stopped,” said Tolentino in Filipino. “The athletes can’t train unless they run to areas under Alert Level 2 where contact sports training is allowed.”
“I calculated everything, it’ll really be an uphill battle in Vietnam.”
The Hanoi SEA Games, originally scheduled in 2021, was postponed to May of this year due to COVID-19.
The Philippines topped the medal tally in the 2019 Games with 149 gold medals while Vietnam came in at second at 98.
Tolentino added that with the way things are going, the country’s defense of its position from the 2019 Games is in peril especially with Vietnam removing events the Philippines won gold medals in.
Vietnam took out arnis, which the Philippines had 14 golds in 2019, and obstacle sports that gave six titles to the country.
“They removed arnis and obstacle sports so that’s around 20 medals already,” said Tolentino. “So they removed some but they also added in some sports, that could bring in around 30 medals. So it’s a plus and minus sort of scenario.”
“How will we catch up to that? It really is an uphill battle.”