PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino wants the country to hold another Southeast Asian Games in the near future.
Tolentino said during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum via video conference that he already expressed willingness to take over the hosting chores of the biennial meet if a country withdraws.
Tolentino, who bared the development three days before the POC holds its election with the Cavite representative seeking a fresh mandate, made his intention known during a recent SEA Games Federation council meeting.
The SEA Games hosting is rotated among member countries, but the order may change if a country decides it cannot hold the games. When the Philippines was considering backing out of the 2019 SEA Games hosting three years ago, Thailand expressed its willingness to take over.
“Matagal na uli ang susunod eh,” said Tolentino. “Kung tutuusin, 20 years ang next kung susundin mo ang cycle. Sayang naman, sayang ang momentum.”
The Philippines was fresh from winning the overall championship last year after collecting 149 gold medals from 56 sports and 530 events.
Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand are already set to host the next three SEA Games. Tolentino said the Philppines can play host after that.
The 2027, 2029, and 2031 SEA Games have yet to be assigned to host countries, with Brunei, Laos, Indonesia next in line.
“Sisiguraduhin kong nasa minutes (of the meeting) na I offered to host, if ever there will be countries na magwe-waive,” said Tolentino. “Magkasunod ‘yung Brunei and Laos so alin man sa dalawa ang mag-back out, nauna akong mag-offer. I was serious in that.”
Tolentino said Indonesia could also back out of the SEA Games hosting due to its bid for the 2032 Olympics.
“Sabi ng Indonesian (Olympic committee) president, baka hindi sila makapag-host and it’s a pleasure if the Philippines will take it. Ang reason nila, 2032, serious ang bid nila sa Olympics. Hindi sila puwedeng mag-host ng SEA Games and Olympics. Definitely, they are preparing for the Olympics,” said Tolentino.
Tolentino said the next SEA Games the country will host will definitely be held again at the New Clark City Sports Complex as the main venue.
“It helps the country kapag nag-host tayo. Tataas ang rating, tataas ang economy, tourism. May domino effect. Kung hindi lang dahil sa Taal (eruption) at COVID, ang ganda ng tama sa ekonomiya because of that,” said Tolentino.