AFTER previously considering backing out from hosting the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, the Philippines is now pushing through with duties as host, something the SEA Games Federation council welcomed with great optimism.
Federation council president HRM Yam Tunku Sri Imran said all 34 members of the assembly were elated after learning the Philippines will be hosting the Games anew since it last hosted the regional biennial meet in 2005.
The Philippine hosting reconsideration was made possible after Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano stepped forward and expressed willingness to chair the SEA Games Organizing Committee.
This prompted Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William Ramirez and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose Cojuangco, Jr. to immediately issue his appointment paper that signified that he would be on top of the preparation.
“We are so happy that despite the glitches, and only two days before this meeting, our friends in the Philippine Olympic Committee met with officials from their government to discuss and confirm to us that they are hosting the 2019 SEA Games,” said Mr. Imran in a press briefing following the SEA Games Federation council meeting yesterday held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the venue of the 2017 SEA Games which officially kicks off today.
Citing primarily the rebuilding of Marawi City and other parts of Mindanao ravaged by fighting between government forces and the Maute local terror group, the Philippine government last month, through Mr. Ramirez, said it was backing out of hosting the 2019 edition of the Games.
But following talks among top government officials, which reportedly included Messr. Cayetano and Ramirez as well as Presidential Special Assistant Bong Go and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, the decision was made to push through with it on the basis of it being a good platform to showcase what our athletes can do and the progress the country has made under the Duterte administration.
Mr. Cayetano had said that they would soon start working on the details and ironing some issues, including possible venues for the events.
Mr. Cojuangco, who attended the federation council meeting along with other POC officials, said their announcement that the Philippine hosting will push through was met with cheers and applause from other members.
“They thought it no longer would push through,” the POC president was quoted as saying in the vernacular after the meeting.
“But when they heard from the SEA Games Federation president and from us that we will push through with the hosting, they were all elated and started clapping and congratulated all of us,” added Mr. Cojuangco.
The last time the Philippines hosted in 2005, the country was the overall champion with 113 gold medals, 84 silver and 94 bronze. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo