Indonesian gymnasts and tennis athletes lamented the exclusion of the two sports from the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Myanmar in December.
Indonesian Tennis Association (Pelti) chairman Wibowo Suseno Wirjawan said the athletes were shocked upon hearing the news. However, he said he was resigned to the decision.
“We believe the KOI [Indonesian Olympic Committee] has done its best,” Wibowo told The Jakarta Post.
Former Pelti secretary-general Ferry Raturandang criticized the committee’s lack of lobbying and initiative.
“They should have been more responsive by cooperating with tennis associations in other countries as well as the Asian tennis federation to protest the decision. Did they do that? I don’t think so,” he said.
Waluyo, the chairman of the Indonesian Gymnastics Association (Persani), also expressed disappointment over the organizer’s decision.
“All athletes who have trained hard are disappointed because they cannot show off the result of their training,” he said.
At a meeting in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on Jan. 28-29, the organizers of the 27th SEA Games decided to ditch tennis and gymnastics due to the host’s lack of athletes and inability to provide facilities, according to KOI chairwoman Rita Subowo.
“The elimination of those sports is a disadvantage for Indonesia,” Rita said during a press conference here on Thursday.
She said Indonesia had proposed the two sports remain a part of the SEA Games but had not received enough support from other participating countries.
The proposal to keep gymnastics only won support from Vietnam and efforts to save tennis were only backed by Thailand, falling short of the threshold of four participating countries.
Myanmar had initially sought to exclude table tennis and field hockey from the list, but the opposition appeared too strong.
The elimination of tennis and gymnastics leaves the 27th SEA Games with only 33 sports, which is far below 44 offered in the 26th SEA Games, co-hosted by the Indonesian cities of Palembang and Jakarta in 2011.
This year’s round of the regional athletic competition will include chinlone, the Myanmarese traditional dance sport, hockey, body building and muay thai.
Besides tennis and gymnastics, other sports eliminated from the previous games’ list are beach volleyball, baseball, softball, bowling, bridge, equestrian, fencing, fin swimming, paragliding, roller-skating, soft tennis, wall climbing and water skiing.
The last SEA Games saw Indonesia collect 182 gold, 151 silver and 143 bronze medals to emerge as the overall champion for the first time since 1997. Among the gold collection, tennis athletes captured four of 7 golds on offer, while the gymnasts delivered only one out of 17.
“We should respect the decision. I believe the athletes from other sports can win more gold medals to offset the exclusion of tennis and gymnastics,” she said.
Indonesia’s bid to include the martial art of tarung derajat, which originated in West Java, in the biennial sporting showcase also failed with only Myanmar in favor of the proposal.
The organizers of the 27th SEA Games have chosen Naypyitaw, Yangoon and Mandalay as the venues for the games, which will be held from Dec. 11 to Dec. 20.
27th SEA Games sports
2. Aquatics (Swimming, Diving, Water Polo)
4. Billiards and Snooker
11. Soccer and Futsal
17. Sepaktakraw and Chinlone
20. Table tennis
26. Body Building
29. Muay Thai
30. Pencak Silat
32. Traditional Boat Race