NO TURNING BACK
Only a war can prevent the country from hosting the 30th edition of the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in 2019.
Top Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) executives formally declared their readiness to organize the region’s biggest athletic conclave, claiming that they have already crafted the masterplan on how the SEA Games will be staged in the country for the first time since 2005.
POC president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco yesterday said the newly-built Philippine Arena will serve as the main hub while water sports will be held in Subic, combat sports at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City and aquatic events at Trace College in Laguna.
The athletes village, meanwhile, will rise in the proposed training center in Clark Field, which the POC expects to be completed by 2019 together with some government structures like the skyways and expressways which will make traveling around the metro much easier.
After all, members of the SEA Games Federation no longer want to compete in satellite venues like Bacolod, Cebu or Davao to avoid the high cost of airfare.
Cojuangco — the Presidential uncle who has a friction with top executives of the present administration — said he doesn’t think the government will be a major roadblock since there will be a different administration when the country hosts the Games in 2019.
But should the Palace refuse to issue a government guarantee, they will reach out to the local government, a strategy that is similar to what the city of Incheon did when it organized the 2014 Asian Games despite the non-commitment of the South Korean government.
“Tuloy na tuloy na yan… unless magka-gyera,” Cojuangco said. “I don’t see a reason why hindi pwedeng matuloy yan. Lahat ng possible venues natin nakaayos na, including Trace College where aquatics will be held. Wala akong nakikitang dahilan kung bakit hindi natin kakayanin mag-host ng SEA Games sa 2019.”
Said to be acting on a strong clamor from majority of its members, the SEA Games Federation decided to award the hosting of the 2019 biennial meet to the Philippines after Brunei decided to withdraw from its commitment.
Thailand, a legitimate powerhouse with massive infrastructures and multi-million sports program, expressed interest in hosting the Games should the Philippines back out at the last minute.
Top POC offcials, however, remain firm, saying that they will host the biennial meet come hell or high water.
Cojuangco stressed that money will not be a cause of concern because they have an ability to successfully organize an event with very meager funding. In fact, when the country hosted the Games in 2005, they spent only P250 million — a small amount compared to the $400-million fund coughed out by Vietnam when it hosted the SEA Games in 2003.
“We spent only P250 million, yet the International Olympic Committee still gave us citation for successfully hosting the SEA Games,” the POC chief said. “The SEA Games Federation has the highest respect to the Philippines. We can be criticized on a lot of aspects but the SEA Games Federation, the Olympic Council of Asia and the IOC like us because we always follow the rules.”
“Ang maiipagmalaki ko ay ang hospitality nating mga Filipino at ang magandang pagaalaga natin sa mga bisita. Kaya naman gustong gusto nilang bumalik dito sa bansa natin.”
By : Julius Manicad | The Daily Tribune