BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): Thailand will boycott the kickboxing competition at this year’s South-East Asian (SEA) Games in protest against hosts Cambodia using the sport’s local name of Kun Khmer rather than Muay Thai.
The National Olympic Committee of Thailand (NOCT) announced on Tuesday (Jan 31) that no Thai athletes will compete in kickboxing at the regional games, hosted by Phnom Penh from May 5-17.
The NOCT added however that, to avoid a dispute between the two countries, it will not try to stop the host from organising kickboxing under its Khmer name.
Cambodia last month removed all reference to Muay Thai from the SEA Games kickboxing schedule, sparking a backlash among Thailand’s Muay Thai associations.
NOCT commissioner Chaiyapak Siriwat said Cambodia had switched supervising bodies from the International Federation of Muaythai Associations (IFMA) to the Kun Khmer International Federation (KIF), which is not recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA). As a result, the committee decided not to send Thai kickboxers to the games.
“We have raised the issue with the IOC and OCA and are waiting for Cambodia’s response. However, in the meantime we will not oppose the hosting of Kun Khmer, to avoid sparking an international dispute,” he said.
NOCT deputy chairman Warin Tansupasiri pointed out that Kun Khmer is not recognised by the World Anti-Doping Agency, meaning that it is not accredited by international sporting authorities.
Chaiyapak added that this year’s games would be the last time that a host country could change or add new sports, as a new SEA Games charter will come into effect in 2025 when Thailand will be the host.
“The new charter will list the main sports for SEA Games based on sports in the Olympic and Asian games while allowing only two to five local sports to be added,” he said.
Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore – as hosts of the next three SEA Games in 2025, 2027 and 2029 – have agreed that all three games will have the same sports.
“The next three SEA Games will be the most standardised ever,” said Chaiyapak.