July 19, 2018, 4:01 am
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POC to tackle hosting

THE Philippine Olympic Committee Executive Board  will hold a “make-or-break” meeting today to decide on the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games in 2019 at the POC office inside the PhilSports Complex in Pasig.  

“If we do not get government support, we might not as well host it,” noted POC secretary-general Steve Hontiveros during the national team send-off held at the CITEM Hall One in Pasay City last Thursday.

While the hosting of the regional competition was awarded to the POC in a SEAG Federation meeting two years ago in Singapore, a guarantee from the national government was part of the deal so the event could push through.

President Benigno Aquino III, through then Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia, assured government backing for the Games, something that his successor, Butch Ramirez, assured last year.

However, Ramirez, citing the protracted Marawi crisis, announced late last month that the government was withdrawing its backing of the 11-nation sports showcase, virtually scuttling the POC’s bid to host the SEAG for the fourth time.

POC Jose Cojuangco Jr. subsequently wrote Malacanang last July 27 to reconsider its decision, reasoning it would be in the interest of the country’s image and would boost tourism revenue once the Games are held in the country once again.

Ramirez, however, was standing pat on his recommendation not to host the sportfest, citing the Marawi conflict as the major reason for the move.  

Cojuangco said he has some private businessmen who were willing to bankroll the meet, but the POC would be hard-pressed to stage the SEA Games on its own since the safety and security of its participants would be one of major concerns that would have to be dealt with.

Sources said Makati Rep. and taekwondo secretary-general Monsour del Rosario, who has been vocal about the  country’s staging of the 2019 SEAG, has been invited to the POC executive board meeting to give his own take on the issue.

Other sources said there have been efforts by some sports quarters for Cojuangco and Ramirez to meet “one-on-one” to find a compromise solution to the sports crisis.

The dialogue between the two sports leaders has taken on a sense of urgency since POC will have to officially inform the SEAG Federation during its meeting on July 17 to 18 in Kuala Lumpur whether the Philippines will push through with the Games or not.

Vietnam and Thailand have expressed interest in hosting the event should the Philippines withdraw.

Vietnam has already been designated as 2021 host while Cambodia is lined up to conduct the meet for the first time in 2023. – Bong Pedralvez
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