POC appeals to President Duterte on country pushing through with 2019 SEA Games hosting 
The POC is set to convene a special General Assembly regarding the country's hosting of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Jerome Ascano

THE Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will try to convince the government to reconsider its decision of foregoing the country’s hosting of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games brought about by the ongoing conflict in Marawi City.

POC secretary general Steve Hontiveros said the Olympic body will convene for a special General Assembly on Wednesday at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club and appeal to President Duterte about going on with the staging of the biennial meet here two years from now.

The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) on Friday announced the country is withdrawing as 2019 SEA Games host due to the current crisis in Mindanao. PSC chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez said the move had the approval of Malacanang as the President plans to divert the budget to be used in the hosting for the rehabilitation of Marawi City instead.

Ramirez sent the formal letter to POC president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco coursed through Hontiveros.

“Meron pang chance, basta may approval ni Presidente,” said Hontiveros on Monday.

The president of the Philippine Bowling Federation (PBF) added if he only has his way, the country should pursue the staging of the SEA Games here since withdrawing the hosting of the event would hurt the image of the Philippines in international community.

“We should show the image of the Philippines that there is no problem. But this is only my personal suggestion,” said Hontiveros. “Ang move ng POC, convene the GA, and appeal to the President.”

 The POC official disclosed the sudden decision of the country to give up the hosting rights has caused a major revision in the closing ceremony of next month’s SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the Philippines was supposed to receive the official flag as the next host of the multi-sports event.

“Ang program ng Malaysia tapos na for the closing (ceremony), naka-set na ang invitation,” he disclosed. “It could be the first time without a turnover.”

If nothing comes out of the appeal, Hontiveros said Indonesia and Thailand both signified intentions to have the SEA Games back in their respective countries.

“But they have to bid now,” he quipped.

“Malaysia called me up and I’ll get back to them after the GA.”

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