Philippines not giving up SEA Games hosting, POC chief says

Michael Joe Delizo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 21 2019 10:25 PM | Updated as of Mar 23 2019 01:13 AM

Construction of New Clark City is underway, with first phase of the project consisting of government buildings, a river park, and a sports complex which will be used for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/file

The Philippines will push through its hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, contrary to a report that it might lose the opportunity due to budget constraint and unrest among sports officials, a Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) official said Thursday.

“Definitely, we will not give up the hosting. It’s an embarrassment to us,” POC chairman Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino told ABS-CBN News.

This year is the fourth time the Philippines will host the biennial regional multi-sports event following the withdrawal of Brunei Darussalam due to financial and logistical concerns. 

Tolentino said there is no reason to back out of the hosting as preparations are “on the right track, very smoothly ongoing.”

POC executive council member Prospero Pichay, who is also a member of the House of Representatives, admitted that the postponement of the Senate’s approval of 2019 General Appropriations Act is a “problem” that may not meet deadlines for the November kick-off of the sporting events.

“Baka August pa raw ma-approve ang budget so it’s a cause of alarm. Imagine mo kung August ma-approve ang budget, three months is too close,” Pichay said. “Let’s cross our fingers.”

(The budget might be approved by August so it’s a cause of alarm. Imagine if the budget will be approved in August, three months is too close.)

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However, Tolentino brushed off the concerns in funding, pointing out that support from “many private donors” will come. 

Earlier, a Daily Tribune report quoted “a senior sport official who is well connected in the international sports community,” as saying that the Southeast Asian Games Federation Council is monitoring the Philippines’ preparation as it has yet to go full blast with merely eight months left before the opening ceremonies in November.

“There is no reason to derail. That’s hearsay,” said Tolentino.