EXACTLY 104 days remain before the Philippines hosts the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. Held every two years with 11 nations participating, the last time our country hosted was in 2005. This will be the fourth time we’ll host the SEA Games, having also welcomed the athletes in 1981 and 1991.
From Nov. 30, 2019 (when the opening ceremony kicks off in the Philippine Arena) until the flame gets extinguished in the closing ceremony in the brand-new Athletic Stadium in Clark on Dec. 11, over 9,000 athletes will compete in the 12-day meet.
Cebu? Ha-ha. We’re far from any action. Twelve years ago when the SEA Games was held in our archipelago, Cebu hosted three events: dancesport (Waterfront Lahug), sepak takraw (USC gym) and penchak silat (Cebu Coliseum). This 2019, we’re hosting zero events.
Luzon gets the honor to host all the 530 events from 56 sports. The three main hubs are in Metro Manila, in Subic and in Clark.
At the center of the games is the New Clark City Sports Hub located in Tarlac. This is the spot where the 20,000-seater Athletics Stadium is found.
Nearby is the 2,000-seater Aquatics Center, a world-class facility complete with a 10-lane Olympic-standard pool and an eight-lane training pool. Billions of pesos (news reports have said between P3 to P6 billion) have been poured into funding this new sports complex.
Lucky for Clark.
Metro Manila gets to host majority of the more popular events like basketball (Mall of Asia Arena), volleyball (Ninoy Aquino Stadium), badminton (Makati) and boxing (PICC). The Rizal Memorial Sports Complex has been furiously undergoing renovations; it will host tennis, squash, football, taekwondo and weightlifting. The SEA Games has an approved budget of P7.5 billion.
Here’s an intriguing game: Obstacle course. Yes, the game that’s often played in family gatherings or team-building exercises is one of the unique events offered this December. And for those familiar with UP Diliman, the six events under the Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) sport will be held at the Sunken Garden! How exciting is that.
Esports is making its debut at the SEA Games. I’m no gamer but the six titles to be played are “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang,” “Arena of Valor,” “DoTA 2,” “Hearthstone,” “StarCraft II” and “Tekken 7.” The venue will be inside the FilOil Flying V Sports Arena in San Juan.
With 530 events coming from 56 sports, the 2019 SEA Games will be a sports fanatics dream-come-true spectacle. And, for sure, there will be several athletes from the nearly 10,000 competitors who’ll see action at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics next year.
How will the host Philippines do overall? The goal is lofty. To aim is to win that No. 1 spot—the same spot we achieved back in 2005 when we won the overall trophy.
The problem is, not until last week when the PSC and POC and the other sports bodies finally got together and got united, it was all squabbling and “sports politics” among our leaders. Our hope is that all this fighting will not hamper our hosting preparations and will not dampen the motivation of our athletes.