Limpag: Shambolic SEA games

Fair Play

PEPING Cojuangco must be smirking at the sidelines these days. His successor Ricky Vargas at the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will have to deal with a lot of disgruntled individuals and is reportedly facing threats of getting replaced due to problems related to the country’s hosting of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games later this year.

In case you forgot, back in 2015, Brunei backed out of hosting the 2019 edition of the SEA Games and Peping “heroically” stepped in, volunteering the country as host.

Four years later, Peping is gone from the POC and in comes Vargas, who won a hotly contested election after the POC declared him ineligible to run in the first place.

And we’re hosting the SEA Games at the end of this year, and guess what? It’s 2005 again.

Fourteen years ago, during the last time we hosted the games, the country was in such a shithole politically that there were talks of cancelling the games. Now--though it may depend where you sit in the political spectrum whether we’re in a shithole--it is certain that there are problems in the hosting gig.

First, of course, is the budget for the games, held impasse because the national budget hasn’t been approved as of today. It looks like that’s going to change in a few days. But with eight months to go, will that leave us enough time? Or will it be yet another photo-finish when it comes to preparations? What preparations? The anti-Vargas sector would say. Basketball, volleyball and billiards have new venues, ones that aren’t ideal. They should have pencil booked the best venues for the games. The Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee should be taking the lead, not the Philippine Sports Commission.

Yada. Yada. Yada.

If you want hindsight, let’s go back four years. We shouldn’t be volunteering to host the freakin’ SEA Games.

“Let’s stop destroying each other. There are three different cultures involved in staging the SEA Games – PHISGOC (Philippines Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee), PSC and POC. When we launched this journey, Secretary Alan (Cayetano) of PHISGOC, chairman Butch (Ramirez) of PSC and I pledged to work as one and win as one,” Vargas told Quinito Henson.

I agree.

I may not agree with Peping’s “heroic” move in 2015, but now that we are the hosts, it is our duty to come up with a great hosting job.

We already embarrass ourselves internationally every time the Angry Old Man opens his mouth, let’s not embarrass ourselves with a shambolic hosting of the SEA Games.

We are a medal contender when it comes to infighting, but that isn’t part of the SEA Games. So, I hope everyone involved will set their own agendas aside and cooperate for the hosting job.

Here’s Vargas: “We’ve encountered problems along the way. ... They’re problems that can be fixed if we work together. Withdrawing from hosting the SEA Games is not an option. ... This is a commitment to our country, our countrymen and our athletes.”


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