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Cambodians vow fair Games

We deserved five, but we lost two to hometown decisions.

There will be no cheating when Cambodia hosts the 32nd Southeast Asian Games from 5 to 17 May.

Cambodia SEA Games Organizing Committee secretary general Vath Chamrouen said they will uphold the principles of justice, fairness and transparency to make sure that there will be no medal-fixing in their first ever hosting of the Games.

Medal-fixing is nothing new in the biennial meet.

When the Thais organized the 24th edition of the Games in 2007, six Filipino boxers forfeited their respective final matches in protest to the alleged biased judging that aims to jack up the host country’s medal count.

Only one Filipino boxer — Larry Semilano — chose to contest his entire bout but lost the super lightweight final to Athens Olympics champion Manus Boonjumnong.

With that, the Thais swept all ten boxing gold medals en route to the overall title with 183 gold, 123 silver and 103 bronze medals.

Six years later, Filipino boxers cried anew as Rey Saludar and Irish Magno lost their respective semifinal matches to Burmese foes in the 27th SEA Games in Myanmar.

Myanmar may not be a boxing nation, but an obscure hometown bet in Mg Nge beat Rey Saludar in the semifinals of the men’s flyweight class while Nwe Ni Oo shocked future Olympic silver medalist Nesthy Petecio in the gold medal match of the women’s lightweight event.

The shocking hometown wins paved the way for Myanmar to finish with two gold, two silver and two bronze medals in boxing to cap its participation with a total of 86 gold, 62 silver and 85 bronze medals for its best finish ever since joining the meet in 1959.

The Filipinos, for their part, settled for three gold, four silver and three bronze medals — way below their pre-tournament target of five gold medals.

“I’m not happy with three gold medals,” then Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines executive director Ed Picson said.

“We deserved five, but we lost two to hometown decisions.”

The Cambodians said these hometown decisions are something that they won’t allow to happen — not just in boxing but across all sports in the biennial meet.

“On that basis, Cambodia would not allow any scandal involving the fixing of results to win medals in any sport,” Chamrouen said in a report by The Nation, the national daily of Thailand.

Chamrouen said they were given the marching order by Deputy Prime Minister Tea Banh, who is also the CAMSOC president, to do their best and make sure that they will be honest and fair in their technical work.

In fact, Chamrouen already informed all member federations, including the Philippines, about the introduction of the principle of transparency and fairness in winning medals without cheating or fixed matches.

He said they already identified 500 disciplines that will be competed in 39 sports to make sure that all member countries will get a fair share in the medal tally.

“We have met to determine the disciplines to be included in each sport, which has already decided by the SEA Games Federation Council,” he said, vowing to take away their homecourt advantage by being inclusive and collaborative.

“The main input we got is that there are more than 500 disciplines to be included in each sports, which has already been decided by the Council.”

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