MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippines may end up hosting the Southeast Asian Games again before the decade is over.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino revealed Tuesday that he informed the Southeast Asian Games Federation that the country is ready to step in as host in case either Brunei or Laos back out in 2027 and 2029.
The Philippines is coming off the successful hosting of the 30th SEA Games last December, where Filipino athletes won a record 149 gold medals to give the nation the overall championship.
"I offered again to host if ever there will be countries na magwe-waive," said Tolentino when asked about the most recent meeting of the SEA Games Federation during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
Vietnam will host the SEA Games in 2021, followed by Cambodia in 2023 and Thailand in 2025. Brunei is pencilled in to host in 2027 and Laos in 2029, but Tolentino said the Philippines can take their place if either country opts to withdraw.
"Alin man sa dalawa na mag-back out, nauna ako na mag-offer during our meeting the other day. I was serious with that," said Tolentino.
Tolentino explained that both countries may run into trouble when it comes to hosting the biennial event.
"Kasi sa Brunei, ang issue doon, 'yung manpower eh, 'di ba?" he said. "Laos siyempre logistics, pero tutulungan din ng ibang ASEAN countries."
The 11 members of the SEA Games Federation rotate hosting duties, and prior to last year's Games, the Philippines last hosted in 2005.
Brunei last hosted the SEA Games in 1999, while Laos hosted the event in 2009.
Tolentino said the Philippines can step in as hosts as the country already has world-class facilities in New Clark City, which were built for the 2019 edition of the event. Other facilities, including those in the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, were also refurbished ahead of the country's hosting.
"Sayang, fresh pa 'yung facilities natin, fresh pa 'yung isip ng mga tao na ganoon ang pag-host, and 'yung energy at saka momentum ng mga athletes, and'yan lang, even the coaches," he said.
Hosting the SEA Games also helps the country's economy and tourism, added Tolentino, although the impact of last year's event was severely blunted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Merong domino effect 'yan. Kung hindi lang noong Taal at saka COVID, ang ganda nung ano natin eh, ng tama sa ekonomiya eh, because of that. So definitely, tulong din 'yun para sa recover natin sa tinamaan ng COVID or what," he explained.
Nonetheless, Tolentino knows that a second hosting within the decade is not a certainty. But it doesn't hurt for the SEA Games Federation to know that the Philippines is ready and prepared to take on the responsibility, should the need arise.
"Baka hindi natin alam, baka may mag-back out sa Brunei and Laos, so hindi na 20 years ang aantayin natin, and'yan na lang, after 10 years," he said.