2019 SEA Games hosting bid not cast in stone

Mark Escarlote on Jun 16, 2015 09:08 AM
2019 SEA Games hosting bid not cast in stone
If we get rejected by the Palace, we will go straight to local government units --- POC secretary-general Steve Hontiveros

SINGAPORE --- There’s no assurance that the Philippines will officially get the hosting rights of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

Though officials of the Philippine Olympic Committee are upbeat that the biennial meet will be held once again in Manila after hosting the event 10 years ago, there are still factors to consider.

One of them is the support of the national government.

POC second-vice president Joey Romasanta said that they are interested to bid for the 2019 meet but for the country to host the SEA Games it will need the full support of the government.

Brunei withdrew from hosting the SEA Games four years from now citing their lack on manpower and facilities for the sports events.

"For some reason during the (Southeast Asian Games Federation) council meeting and the Board meeting they offered it to the Philippines," said Romansanta.

"Tumawag si (POC secretary-general) Steve (Hontiveros) kay Cong. (POC president Jose "Peping" Cojuangco). Sabi ni Cong "O sige tutal mababago na ang (administration)." Kasi kalangan mo ng government guarantee," he added.

Cojuangco and his nephew President Noynoy Aquino, are not in good terms with the long-time POC head asking for his resignation from the post after several national issues.

"Not so much for the government to fund but for the government to make available the government agencies concerned para matuloy yung games like police, armed forces, immigration, customs, department of health mga ganyan," said Romansanta. "Actually kapag ganoon executive order pa ginagawa diyan, for all government agencies to provide assistance."

"Kung ako naman ang presidente bibigyan ko na ng government guarantee e di problema na ng kasunod (na administrasyon) yun, di ba?

Hontiveros said that in case the national government refused to back POC, the other option is to offer the hosting to various local government units such as Makati, Manila and Quezon City. Southern provinces like Cebu, Davao and Bacolod could also serve as venues, but members of the SEA Games Federation frown on the idea of incurring additional expenses on airfare.

"If we get rejected by the Palace, we will go straight to local government units," said Hontiveros, one of the prime movers of the country's hosting of the Games in 2005 where the Philippines emerged as overall champion after spending P250 million.

And then there’s Thailand.

The country which hosted three editions of the Games in 1985 (Bangkok), 1995 (Chiang Mai) and 2007 (Nakhon Ratchasima) expressed interest in making a bid.

Reports from Bangkok have it that Thailand is dead serious in assuming the responsibility should the Philippines fail on its bid to host the 30th SEA Games.

Thai officials will be conducting a feasibility study and estimate on the costing, which is reportedly around 800 million baht. They are looking at staging the event at Chon Buri with Trat and Chantrhaburi serving as secondary venues.

"We have to work hard because I heard that Thailand is also interested. They told us that 'kung hindi nyo kaya, eh di kami na lang ang gagawa nyan,'" said Romasanta

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