PH withdraws interest from 2019 SEA Games hosting due to Marawi conflict
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William Ramirez revealed earlier that the Philippines is out of the running to host the 30th Southeast Asian Games in 2019, during a press conference at the Rizal Sports Complex in Malate, Manila.
Ramirez cited the "problem of terrorism and atrocities" in Marawi, Mindanao as the reason for the decision.
In a July 19, 2017 letter that is addressed to Philippine Olympic Committee president (POC) Jose Cojuangco, the PSC chairman said: "The government accepted the chairmanship of the ASEAN 2017 to be worlds partner of change with great enthusiasm and eagerness. It is in the manner it showed interest in hosting the 2019 30th SEA Games.
“However, due to the current situation in Mindanao and the problem in terrorism and atrocities, we regret to inform you that we will no longer pushed (sic) through with the hosting of the biennial event. It has been resolved that the government resources be focused in the rehabilitation and rebuilding of Mindanao specifically Marawi.
The letter says the PSC remains committed to supporting national athletes in the upcoming SEA Games, set for August in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on through the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo Japan.
“Further, when all is clear and peace and order had improve after 2020 Olympics and in the future, we are positive and willing to host the SEA Games or any other international sporting events."
PSC executive director Carlo Abarquez supported the decision and stated that Malacañang Palace is "focusing on relief efforts" in Marawi.
Abarquez clarified that although POC technically has the final say on whether or not the Philippines will still host the 2019 SEA Games, he's confident the decision will remain, as the Palace no longer supports it.
Cojuangco could not be reached for comment while POC first vice president Joey Romasanta declined to make any statement “because this is something that it would be best for Cong (Cojuangco) to comment on being the POC president.”
The Philippines was set to present its pitch at next month's SEAG Federation meeting in Kuala Lumpur. The country had thrown its hat into the ring for the hosting after Brunei pulled out of hosting, blaming a lack of venues and preparation time.
The Philippines last hosted the SEA Games in 2005, which was also the last time the Philippines finished atop the medal tally. – with reports from Manolo Pedralvez/Rappler.com