Organizers have vowed to pull out all the stops as the Philippines formally opens its hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games today at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Over 1,800 Filipino athletes aim to duplicate the overall championship they won when the country last hosted the biennial multi-sport event in 2005, when most of the events were held in the capital Manila.
Fourteen years ago, Team Philippines reaped 290 total medals—112 gold, 85 silver and 93 bronze—to edge out regional rival Thailand. It gave the nation an extra warm glow going into the holidays back then, a feeling local athletes hope to duplicate this year for the event that will run until Dec.11.
Officials of the Philippine Olympic Committee said Pinoys can claim as many as 180 gold medals this year, buoyed no doubt by the hometown crowd that is expected to fill every venue of the competition.
READ: Rich Filipino culture in spotlight
This time, the SEA Games will be marked by its first major decentralization, with competition venues spread in 23 cities across the country divided into four clusters, all located in Luzon—Metro Manila, Clark, Subic and Olongapo, and a fourth cluster of standalone venues.
The opening ceremony at the Philippine Arena, following the traditional torch-lighing at the cauldron inside New Clark City in Pampanga, will be a festival of lights, sound and music highlighting the rich Filipino culture (See full story on A8).
This will be the Philippines’ fourth time to host the games, as it took the cudgels for Brunei, which was awarded the hosting in 2012 but withdrew in 2015, citing financial and logistical reasons.
The country also hosted the 1981 and 1991 editions of the games.
The 30th SEA Games is the first to include esports (electronic sports) and obstacle course as well as having the highest number of sports in the event’s history, a total of 56 medal competitions.
The Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee will give free tickets to the public for most of the sports events, except basketball, volleyball, and football, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Friday.
Cayetano, who chairs the Phisgoc, said the tickets for the SEA Games sports competitions will be made available subject to their availability and set mechanics.
However, the tickets for some sporting events, such as basketball, volleyball, and football, cannot be provided because the tickets are sold out.
Cayetano also noted that about 10,000 tickets for the closing ceremonies to be held at the New Clark City Athletics Stadium will be distributed for free.
“The organizing committee has decided that all games that are not yet sold out will be opened and made free to the public. So far those that are either sold out or almost sold out are basketball and volleyball, and football where the Philippine team is playing,” Cayetano said.
He said subject to the availability of complimentary tickets in the first-come, first-serve basis, complimentary tickets for respective sports competitions and the closing ceremony may be obtained as follows: Through SM Ticket outlets for general admission; complimentary tickets should be claimed over the counter; allotted general admission tickets can be distributed to the residents of respective local government units having jurisdiction over particular venues: Manila, Pasay, Pasig, Muntinlupa, Sta. Rosa, Biñan, Tagaytay, Calatagan, Angeles, Pampanga, San Fernando, Pampanga, San Juan, La Union, Subic, and Capas for specific venues.
READ: Local fotogs banned from covering opening ceremonies
Additional general admission complimentary tickets for the opening of the SEA Games will be turned over to state universities near the Philippine Arena for distribution to students.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday night rejected a call to suspend classes for the duration of the Games, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, saying this was too long.
Earlier, the Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas called for the suspension of classes to help ease traffic congestion and to give students the opportunity to watch SEA Games events.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police earlier backed calls for class suspension for the duration of the SEA Games.
READ: Two powerful typhoons may rain out event
About 19 locations across Metro Manila were chosen for several SEA Games events.
Some schools and areas, however, have suspended classes to give way to the regional games.
Also on Friday, House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez wished the best of luck to the Filipino athletes and coaches competing in the 30th SEA Games.
“Good luck to all our athletes and coaches competing in the SEA Games. As long as we work hard, nothing can prevent the Team Philippines from becoming champion. Fight hard, play fair and win big,” Romualdez said. With PNAREAD: Rody: Where’s the money?
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