Depleted Southeast Asian games athletics program upsets regional body
Malaysia's provisional decision to omit the marathon, decathlon and 10,000 metres from the 2017 South-east Asian Games has upset rival nations and led to the regional athletics body threatening not to sanction the biennial Games.
With the hosts always given heavy clout over which sports are contested, rows frequently blow up between the 11 competing nations but Malaysia's decision to omit a number of established Olympic events has upset the Asian Athletics Association.
"They want to leave out eight events and that is not allowed," AAA honorary secretary Maurice Nicholas was quoted as saying by Singaporean media.
"When you undertake to organise a SEA Games, you must do all the events. If they insist on leaving them out, we will not give them the permit. They gave the reason that they can't win medals, but others train hard, how can you deny them?"
Organisers of the 29th Games met on Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur and ratified the initial list of 34 sports and 342 events, including ice hockey and ice skating for the first time.
Futsal, a form of five-a-side football, was also included, but the heptathlon and 3,000 metres were among other athletics events to be scrapped along with Olympic staples fencing, judo and canoeing.
SEA Games Federation president Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja'afar said no complaints had been made about the list, despite a report in the Malay Mail on Wednesday saying that Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar and Laos would not send athletics teams because of the row.
"The motion brought by Malaysia as the host of the Games next year did not get any objection from all 11 member countries," he was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency.
"This is only the provisional list for the Games. We will open a formal request until mid-March and follow the SEA Games sports charter."
The definitive list for the Aug. 19-31 Games next year will be made in July.
Athletics, aquatics, archery, badminton, basketball, boxing, cricket, cycling, equestrian, football and futsal, golf, gymnastics, hockey, ice hockey, ice-skating, karate, lawn bowls, netball, pencak silat, petanque, rugby sevens, sailing, sepak takraw, shooting, snooker and billiard, squash, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, tenpin bowling, indoor volleyball, water ski, weightlifting and wushu
(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by John O'Brien)