By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
Calls to make the events in the about-to-start 30th Southeast Asian Games accessible to more people did not fall on deaf ears as organizers have decided to make majority of the games available for free.
In an announcement made on Friday, a day before the formal start of the biennial regional sporting free, Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) chairman Alan Peter Cayetano said they will give free tickets to all sporting events save for three events, namely basketball, volleyball and football.
Mr. Cayetano said free tickets could not be given to the three aforementioned events as “these were already sold out.”
The PHISGOC official went on to say that 10,000 tickets for the closing ceremony on Dec. 11 will be released for free as well.
In the lead-up to the sporting meet, which the country is hosting for the fourth time in history, Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella called on President Rodrigo Duterte and the organizers to make the games open to the public.
He said that doing so would allow more people to cheer for the Filipino athletes as they try to win for the country anew the overall championship in the SEA Games, which the Philippines last achieved in 2005, incidentally the last time the country hosted the event.
In a media briefing on Friday, PHISGOC chief operating officer Ramon Suzara said it was no less than Mr. Duterte who gave the instruction to open the games for free.
He said it will be the local government units who will be in charge of the tickets and that spectators will still go through to inspection in the venues and are expected to behave accordingly.
Mr. Suzara, however, said no refunds will be given to those who already bought tickets online but that they will try to find ways to give them “perks” for having availed of tickets.
In this year’s SEA Games, happening from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, participants of as much as 9,000 from the 11 member nations will pit their skills in 56 sports involving 530 events.
Ten new sports are making their Games debut, namely E-sports, skateboarding, kurash, sambo, modern pentathlon, kickboxing, surfing, underwater hockey, jiu-jitsu and obstacle course.
The events will take place in four designated clusters — Clark, Subic, Metro Manila and “Other Areas,” which include Batangas, Cavite, La Union and Laguna.