PH drops SEA Games; funding goes to Marawi rehabilitation
THE Philippines has officially dropped its hosting of the 30th South East Asian Games to be held in Davao City in 2019 to re-channel government resources in favor of the rehabilitation efforts for the beleaguered city of Marawi.
In a letter by Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez to Philippine Olympic Committee President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, the government announced that it shall no longer proceed with the country’s hosting of the SEA Games amid the ongoing siege in Marawi City.
“The government [has] accepted the chairmanship of the ASEAN 2017 to be [the] world’s partner of change with great enthusiasm and eagerness. It is in [this] manner [that] it showed interest in hosting the 2019 30th SEA Games,” Ramirez said.
“However, due to the current situation in Mindanao and the problem of terrorism and atrocities, we regret to inform you that we will no longer [push] through with the hosting of the biennial event. It has been resolved, that Government resources be focused in the rehabilitation and rebuilding of Mindanao specially Marawi,” he added.
In 2015, the Philippines expressed its interest to host the games after its original host, Brunei, which is supposed to host the 2019 edition, earlier declined citing the country’s lack of sporting facilities, accommodation, and preparation of their athletes.
The main host city, meanwhile, was moved from Manila to Davao City after a proposal made by Cojuangco in 2016 and later on approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Philippines’ last hosted the games in 2005 in Manila, wherein the country emerged as the overall champion.
Despite the setback, Ramirez assured that the government will “always support our national athletes in its quest for medals and honors” as preparations are currently ongoing for the 29th SEA Games to be held in Kuala Lumpur this August and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The PSC chair likewise said that the country is willing to host future editions of the biennial games once the peace and order situation in the country has already stabilized.
“Further, when all is clear and peace and order had improve[d] after 2020 Olympics and in the future, we are positive and willing to host the SEA Games or any other international sporting events,” he added.
The government has allotted more than P20 billion, to be released within three years to rehabilitate and rebuild the city of Marawi, wherein Islamic State-inspired terrorists laid siege since May 23.
President Rodrigo Duterte likewise placed the entire island of Mindanao under military rule for 60 days and is seeking for another five month extension to completely rid the island of extremists.