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SEA Games medal winners lose out on promised bonuses

Burma's athletes take part in the opening ceremony of the 27th SEA Games in Naypyidaw on 11 December 2013. (PHOTO: REUTERS/ Soe Zeya Tun)

Burma’s Ministry of Sport has suddenly reduced without explanation the amount of bonus to be paid to Burmese medal winners at the SEA Games, according to an official from the country’s billiards and snooker squad who asked to remain anonymous.

The Ministry originally promised a reward or bonus of 10 million kyat (US$10,000) for gold medal winners, five million for silver winners, and three million for bronze.

Burmese officials previously said the country was targeting 100 gold medals at the games and is already well on its way with 27 golds, 26 silvers and 22 bronze winners at the time of press.

However, the Ministry has now decreased the fixed sums to 700,000, 500,000 and 300,000 kyat for gold, silver and bronze winning medalists respectively, said the official, speaking to DVB on Friday.

Sponsors such as Kanbawza Bank and the Shwe Taung Company have also offered huge financial incentives as Burma rallies to make the games a success on the track as well as off. The men’s football team, for example, has been offered a collective bonus of 230 million kyat if they win the gold.

Burma’s cycling federation has pledged 10 million kyat to each Burmese gold medal winner while the Billiards and Snooker Federation offered five million and the Pencak Silat Federation offered 10 million kyat to any gold medal winner from their teams.

Minister of Livestock & Fisheries Ohn Myint awarded the Omega watch from his wrist and promised one million kyat to Wai Phyo Aung after he won three gold medals in wushu. Wai Phyo Aung also collected five million kyat from the Myanmar Wushu Federation and one million from the Sports Ministry.

Meanwhile, Burma’s men’s football team must put all the controversy over bonuses aside this evening when they face arch-rivals Thailand at the YTC Stadium in Rangoon.