Three-time Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medalist and former ONE lightweight world champion Eduard Folayang is calling for a ceasefire amid all the criticisms surrounding the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines.
The 36-year-old from Baguio City touted as the face of Philippine MMA, brought home the SEA Games gold in wushu in 2003, 2005 and 2011.
A veteran of the biennial sports meet, Folayang stressed that there is no such thing as a perfect event in his experience.
"We've experienced some inconveniences ourselves. In my first SEA Games, there were things to complain about. Our bus was hot, and there was no air-conditioning. There will always be something to complain about," said Folayang.
"As an athlete, you can't afford to look for luxury. You cannot expect that. You'll be lucky if given a good facility, but having inconveniences is part of being an athlete. You don't go there for vacation, after all."
What Folayang is mostly concerned about is the possibility that the criticisms may have a negative impact on the athletes' mindset.
"Instead of boosting our nationalism because we are the host country, some would rather focus on the negativity and shortcomings. There's no such thing as a perfect SEA Games. Regardless of the host, there could be something to complain about," he stressed.
"My point is, being a SEA Games athlete myself, it is really good that we now have world-class facilities. But if we focus on the issues, then we're really going nowhere. Instead of boosting the athletes' confidence, they might rather feel the negativity," he added.
"What if the athletes become complacent and tell themselves it's OK to lose because of all the shortcomings? What happens if their mindset turns out to be that way?"
The Team Lakay star however stressed that pointing out the irregularities should be heard and looked at. For now, Folayang iterated that the focus should be on winning medals, then criticisms can come after the biennial sports meet.
"To me, what's important is we take care of our athletes. That's what athletes want to feel because they represent the country. Let's not forget the true purpose of SEA Games which is to boost our nationalism and develop unity," Folayang stated.
"The criticisms can come later. There's always something to see and criticize, but as much as possible, it is better if the criticisms happen in the right season." —KG, GMA News
FULL COVERAGE: 30th Southeast Asian Games on GMA News Online