Various reports may be referring to Malaysia as the eventual “winner” of the 29th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) that is yet to be concluded in Kuala Lumpur but it is not.
The reason is that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not recognize “winners” of any of the competitions that it sanctions, including the Southeast Asian Games, the Asian Games and the Olympic Games, to name a few.
The IOC, however, cannot stop any competing country in any tournament that it blesses from claiming bragging rights to, say, the 2016 Rio Olympics that was “won” by the United States or the 2005 Southeast Asian Games that was “topped” by the Philippines.
Still, it has been insisting that there could only be an unofficial “winner” whether it is the Winter Olympics or the Asian Winter Games, but evidently to no avail.
In earlier, Olympic Games, for example, the “points” system was suggested wherein a gold medal is worth five points; a silver medal, three points; and a bronze medal, one point—no country officially adopted it.
You add the points up and you’ve got a “winner.”
Despite the practical rejection, the IOC continues to also insist that the Olympic Games, for example, are competitions between athletes in individual or team events, not between countries.
Even Tier 2 tournaments such as the SEAG, however, are an occasion to claim superiority that reflects that of the “winning” country’s socio-political and economic progress.
This year’s Southeast Asian Games (11 countries) is not an exception, such that “winning” the so-called overall championship is the be-all of taking part in it.
It’s not surprising that host nation Malaysia would leave nothing to chance in order to crown itself No. 1 in the region, prompting the participating countries to accuse Kuala Lumpur of one-upping them in many instances.
But, for the record, all the other countries that had hosted the regional games are guilty as charged of “cheating” here, “cheating” there, so what else is new?
Still, the bottomline, at least for the Philippines, is that an eventual sixth-place finish (according to gold medals, and with apologies to the IOC) is, in the words of Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez, not “katanggap-tanggap [not acceptable].”
Well, the country has the best chance to nail the 30th Southeast Asian Games, which it will be hosting in 2019.
Until then, Philippine sports authorities could hold their head high in the thought that we did not lose in the race for the “overall title” and that Malaysia did not “win” it.