Simply Unbelievable

I was listening to the radio on the way back from bringing Marielle to work when I heard that a Thai official has accused the Philippines of cheating at the South East Asian Games. Jaruk Areerajakaran, the secretary general of Thailand’s Olympic Committee, said, “It is hard to win at the Games because the hosts are cheating.” Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s Prime Minister, made a statement that “the organizer aims only to favor their own athletes.”

How in the world can the Philippines, the organizer of the 23rd SEA Games, be cheating? For game-fixing to work in the massive undertaking that are the Games, there has to be a huge conspiracy with palm-greasing and pocket-lining all around (and we all know the Philippines can’t afford that, right?). The Philippine SEA Games organizing committee released a statement that says officiating is conducted not by the organizers themselves, but by the SEA Games Federation’s pool of international referees and judges.

My interest in this was so piqued that I wasn’t satisfied with local news reporting on it. I did a Google search for international news about it. The Bangkok Post reports that a few days before the official start to the Games, a Vietnamese official had told reporters in Hanoi that the Philippines had already fixed the games to win the overall crown. Nguyen Van Minh declared that the Philippines would do this by using judges from the Southeast Asian region. All I have to say about that is “Hello? It’s the South East Asian Games.” If there’s any bias to be had from using judges and referees from Southeast Asia, it might be that they’ll decide in favor of their own country. That’s why if the Philippines is playing, no Filipino judge or referee will be officiating.

The Philippines leads the medal standings (gold and overall) with five days left in these Games; Vietnam and Thailand are in second and third place, respectively. I won’t say this is for certain, but considering the source of the accusations I wonder if it’s just the sour grapes talking.

No offense meant to the citizens of Thailand and Vietnam. But their officials’ accusations are simply unbelievable.

UPDATE: Thai sports officials apologize for “inappropriate, baseless” report; Thai embassy says Thaksin’s remarks taken out of context.

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