By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter
ON Friday, Jan. 18, the one-year countdown to the country’s hosting of the 2020 ASEAN Para Games officially began with organizers and proponents highlighting accessibility of the event for the athletes as one of the keys to a successful staging.
In ceremonies held at the Novotel Manila at the Araneta Center in Quezon City, officials of the Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC) and the ASEAN Para Sports Federation (APSF) and para athletes began the countdown to the Games which will happen in January 2020, following the holding of the 30th Southeast Asian Games which the country is hosting as well in December.
Earlier on Friday, the PPC and APSF, too, made an ocular inspection of where the games will be held in the New Clark City Sports Complex in Capas, Tarlac.
The country’s hosting of the biennial sporting meet for differently abled athletes would mark the second time that the Philippines would take on the job and something that local organizers said they are looking forward to.
“The Philippines is grateful for the opportunity to host the 10th APG, an event that will give all differently abled athletes in the region a platform to override their limitations and achieve the seemingly impossible. At the same time it will inspire our local para athletes to exceed their recent achievements and show that they can aspire for greater glory and give pride to our country,” said Michael Barredo, PPC president, during the countdown ceremonies.
But Mr. Barredo said to host is one thing and to be a successful host is another, which is why they said they will do everything they can to make the 10th edition of the Para Games a standout one, particularly in making it accessible for the athletes.
Primary are the venues where the sporting events will be held.
During the ocular inspection, officials of the PPC and APSF made their concerns known as far as how they want things to be handled.
And these did not fall on deaf ears as MTD Philippines, an infrastructure development company tasked to lead in the building of the sport facilities in the New Clark City, expressed its willingness to consider all their suggestions as they go about construction, which includes the 20,000-seat stadium and the Athletes Village.
“We are designing it to be very inclusive. We’ve taken all comments during this visit, they’re recommending a few things that we need to add so that it will be very accessible,” said MTD Philippines president Nicholas David.
The MTD Philippines official went on to say that it has been a challenging build for them but they are not allowing it to stop them from delivering from their end and producing a world-class facility that athletes of all forms and shapes would be comfortable using and the entire country would be proud of.
Apart from the venues, Mr. Barredo said in the lead-up to the hosting they would work on various aspects as well like transportation and security.
The ASEAN Para Games 2020 begins on Jan. 18, a few weeks after the completion of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
At least 1,400 differently-abled athletes from the 11 member countries of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Myanmar, Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Timor Leste, and the Philippines are expected to participate in the week-long sporting festivities.
Fourteen sports to date have been short-listed for the Games, namely archery, athletics, badminton, boccia, chess, cycling, volleysitting, wheelchair-basketball, goalball, judo, powerlifting, swimming, tenpin bowling, and table tennis.
Participants in the ASEAN Para Games include athletes with physical, vision, and intellectual disabilities.