Tuesday, February 18, 2014

SEA GAMES / KARATE: Blame it on OCM

THE Malaysian Karate Federation (Makaf) has laid the blame for the sport's expected exclusion from the 2015 Sea Games entirely at the door of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM).

   The Sea Games Federation is set to finalise a list of 36 sports on April 30 for the Singapore Games next year which will not include karate, weightlifting and chess.

   After contributing seven gold medals for Malaysia in Naypyitaw last December, Makaf pinned the loss of a trove of gold medals in 2015 on OCM.

   "OCM knew even before the last Sea Games in Myanmar that karate was not on the list for Singapore and they did nothing," said Makaf secretary-general Vincent Chen yesterday.
   "They also did not object to karate being excluded at the SGF (sports and rules committee) meeting in Naypyitaw.

   "We at Makaf are extremely unhappy with OCM. This is not right. There is no transparency because we trusted them to lead us and seemed like they are not doing their jobs."
   Minutes of the Dec 9 meeting in Naypyitaw obtained by Timesport showed that Singapore proposed the inclusion of just 30 sports.

   On Saturday, SGF agreed to add six more sports, including boxing and equestrian, but not karate, which has been in the Sea Games since the sport's debut in 1987 with the exception of the 1995 edition in Chiangmai, Thailand.

   The minutes showed that OCM vice-president Datuk Low Beng Choo supported the reinstatement of gymnastics but made no mention of karate, boxing, weightlifting and equestrian -- sports in which Malaysia could reasonably win gold in 2015.

   Only Vietnam stood up for karate but even then it ranked last in their list of priorities behind vovinam, petanque, rowing and wrestling.

   In a bid to persuade Singapore not to drop karate, Makaf even sought the assistance of World Karate Federation president Antonio Espinos to lobby the hosts but to no avail.

   This latest round of adding and dropping sports at the whim of the host nation is symptomatic of SGF's departure from its original ideals of preparing Southeast Asian athletes to compete at international level.

   Malaysia too will get in on the act in 2017 when karate will be welcomed back while floorball and traditional boat race are given the boot.

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