By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
WITH less than a year before the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games, local sports officials and offices are now busy getting the ball rolling in preparation.
One of the busier agencies is the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), which has vowed to do its part in having a successful, if not excellent, hosting by the Philippines of the biennial regional sporting meet set to happen from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.
Tasked with among other things to ensure that venues and facilities to be used during the Games are ready and at par with international standards, the PSC said that things are on track albeit admitted there are still problems they have to address to.
“We’re on track. There are problems, of course, but it’s part of the one-year preparation. We should have prepared two years ago but we all know a lot had happened and it was already cancelled,” said PSC Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez in a recent interview with BusinessWorld, referring to an earlier decision of the government to cancel the SEA Games hosting to focus on the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi before being reconsidered.
“Meetings are ongoing. We had two or three meetings already with the SEA Games Federation. The PSC is not involved in the number of sports to be played as it’s with the POC (Philippine Olympic Committee). But venues we are involved because we are the ones who are funding them. By August, or October at the most, we think almost all the venues will be ready,” he added.
Mr. Ramirez, who is in his second tour of duty as PSC chairman after holding the same position from 2005 to 2008, said they are now awaiting for the approval of the P7.5-billion budget for the SEA Games by Congress so they can further pick things up.
“If the budget will be approved by January then the money will be used for the preparation but if it will be a re-enacted budget there will be a problem. But even then if it is a re-enactment the government will try to find ways to get the money. It can be done. Back in 2005 we were able to do a good hosting job with a P500-million budget,” the PSC official said.
Late last year, the PSC identified the areas where the 55 sporting events in the 2019 SEA Games will take place, dividing them into four clusters.
The clusters are Clark, Pampanga; Metro Manila; Subic, Zambales; and the Batangas, La Union and Tagaytay.
In the Clark cluster are aquatics, underwater hockey, athletics, archery, rugby 7’S, arnis, baseball, softball, floorball, indoor hockey, net ball, golf, judo, jujitsu, kurash, smabo, wrestling, lawn balls, petanque, shooting, and wakeboarding.
Identified areas in Clark include the Parade Grounds, The Villages, Royce Hotel, Luisita Golf, ASEAN Convention Center, Clark Global City and Clark Wakepark.
Part of the Metro Manila cluster, meanwhile, are badminton, basketball (3-on-3), basketball full court, taekwondo. Bowling, boxing, fencing, kickboxing, wushu, figure skating, ice hockey, football, gymnastics, rowing, soft tennis, tennis, squash, volleyball, Esports, and billiards.
Among the venues are Philippine Sports Commission Philippines Arena, SM Mall of Asia Activity Arena, MOA Arena. Ninoy Aquino Stadium, World Trade Center, La Mesa Ecopark, Manila Polo Club, and Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Venues for Esports and billiards are still to be determined.
In Subic, to be played are beach volleyball, beach handball, chess, muay, pencak silat, table tennis, weightlifting, karatedo, sepak takraw, obstacle sports, sailing, windsurfing, traditional boat race, triathlon and duathlon.
Areas of competition include Subic Tennis Court, Subic Bay Exhibition & Convention Center, Subic Gymnasium and Subic Bay Yacht Club.
Polo will be played in Calatagan, Batangas. Surfing is in La Union while cycling and skateboarding are to be held in Tagaytay.