SINGAPORE – The Philippine plan to host the 2019 Southeast Asian Games isn’t cast in stone yet as the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will still need government approval for the plan to push through.
POC first vice president Joey Romasanta said the Olympic body will formalize its request for government assistance for the staging of the biennial meet in the country four years from now as soon as Filipino sports officials come back to Manila at the conclusion of the Games’ 28th edition here.
Brunei backed out of the 2019 SEA Games hosting, prompting no less than the SEA Games Federation Council to ask the Philippines to take over as host.
The POC has already submitted a letter of intent about the biennial meet’s hosting.
“We have to formalize it to the government. Hindi puwedeng Philippine Sports Commission ang magsabi because this is a POC event,” said Romasanta.
Getting that government support, however, could be easier said than done, according to a high-ranking official who refused to be named, since the rift between President Aquino and his uncle POC president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco has widened over the years.
Romasanta himself slammed Malacañang the other day for not attending send-off events for athletes bound for international competitions as its way of giving them moral support.
President Aquino’s term will end next year.
Incidentally, the next SEA Games Federation Council meeting takes place next year, meaning the Philippines will have to make a decision on whether it will go for the hosting rights or not.
“Kailangan mo ng government, not so much for the government to fund it but to make available the government agencies concerned. Kailangan ng Executive Order to provide assistance,” said the source.
Thailand is reportedly interested to host the 2019 Games should the Philippines decline.
“Thailand has always been saying na kapag walang may gusto, kami na. Pero sabi ng Thailand, kung gusto ng Pilipinas, hindi namin kukunin,” Romasanta said.