IT was on, then it was off, now it is on again: Philippines have said they will be in a position to host the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games after all.
Less than one month after Philippines withdrew from hosting the multi-sport event, the 29th edition of which is currently taking place in Kuala Lumpur, they are once again committed to hosting the Games.
Philippines, who only stepped in as hosts when Brunei withdrew in 2015, pulled out last month citing the escalating cost of the ongoing conflict Marawi.
Thailand and Indonesia had been on red alert to step in as hosts, with Philippines set to redistribute budget set aside for the SEA Games to rebuilding Marawi.
But the 30th edition of the SEA Games will, after all, be taking place in Philippines following confirmation by Cynthia Carrion, a board member of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).
She told AFP on Thursday that it was “absolutely true” that Philippines would notify the SEA Games Federation on Friday that it is committed to hosting the Games, following backing from President Rodrigo Duterte.
“That’s absolutely true,” said Carrion, who is also the chef de mission of the Philippines delegation at the current SEA Games in Malaysia. “I’m 200 percent sure we are hosting the Games.”
Carrion also suggested the government’s initial decision to withdraw from hosting the 2019 Games “had nothing to do with Marawi” but did not elaborate on that comment.
She confirmed that POC officials met with foreign secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and other Duterte advisers on Wednesday to discuss matters such as funding for the 2019 SEA Games.
In a separate statement, the Philippine Sports Commission said on Thursday that Cayetano was named chairman of the organising committee for the 2019 SEA Games.
Philippines, who have won one silver and two bronze medals so far in Kuala Lumpur, last hosted the biennial SEA Games in 2005.