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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 16:53, December 01, 2005
Thai Prime Minister upset by SEA Games "bias"
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Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will seek informal talks with Southeast Asian nation leaders over alleged biased officiating in the SEA Games.

He questions some of the decisions in favor of the host country, which led to the defeat of Thai taekwondo competitors, including Olympic bronze medallist Yaowapa Burapolchai.

Yaowapa was defeated by Filipina Loraine Lorelie Catalan in her opening bout and World University Games gold medallist Patiwat Thongsalap was pipped by Filipino Donald David Geisler in the lightweight final.

He expressed doubts over the fairness of results at the SEA Games, as the host nation the Philippines is winning far more medals than the other competitors.

"We may need to talk to straighten out the fact that it would not be good for things to continue as they are," he said yesterday, without elaborating, or referring to any particular sporting events or decisions by referees.

"The primary objective of the Games is to encourage a spirit of fair play and to develop ourselves athletically - not just to win medals," Thaksin said.

"Watching a number of the events has made me question how things have turned out. But I don't know what to say. The SEA Games will no longer be popular or commonly accepted if it continues in this way," he said, alluding to the fact that decisions in some events have favored local athletes.

The host of the games, the Philippines, has so far won an unusually high number of medals at the 23rd SEA Games - 57 in total, including 29 golds. In previous SEA Games it was not among the top three competitors.

Vietnam and Thailand have won the second and third highest number of medals, with 48 and 42, respectively.

Although Thaksin did not accuse the Philippines of cheating, there has been some controversy over the host country benefiting from preferential treatment from the games' judges.

The PM said it was unlikely Thailand would lodge any official complaints about the results.

However, the issue might be raised on the sidelines of next week's ASEAN summit in Malaysia, due to worries that the desire to win at any cost has overcome the spirit of fair play that the SEA Games was meant to foster.

The premier said he was ready to welcome all the Thai athletes on their return home. "I will tell them not to be discouraged, whatever the results," he added.

However, Eric Buhain, Philippine ambassador to the SEA Games, told media that Thaksin should not question the Philippine performance.

"Measurable sports like running, swimming, fencing and water polo can't be rigged as he insinuated," he said.

Source: Xinhua

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