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PH's SEA Games hosting gets full support from other participating countries

The participating countries of the 30th Southeast Asian Games gave their nod of approval to the Philippines' hosting of the biennial event later this year.

Although they had heard discontent among the Philippine Olympic Committee leadership, the 10 other countries are sure that the host will successfully stage the biggest edition of the Games' 60-year history.

A total of 530 events across 56 sports will comprise this year's edition which will span from November 15 to December 11. It is a massive increase from the 2017 edition staged in Malaysia which only had 404 events in 38 sports. The last time the Philippines hosted the SEA Games 14 years ago, there were 443 events across 40 sports.

Malaysia, and the most recent host of the Asian Games, Indonesia, have been impressed with the news reported by the Philippine South East Asian Games Organizing Committee in the 2nd Chef de Mission meeting at the Hilton Hotel in Pasay Thursday.

"I am personally quite happy [on seeing] what's happening now. And definitely the first thing I'll do back home is to call for a special meeting to tell that the Philippines is ready, and they are three-quarters there, we have nothing to worry back home," said Senator Datuk Megat Zulkarnain Omardin, the Malaysian CDM.

He is also hoping the Philippines can cater the nutritional needs of Muslim athletes through the preparation and serving of halal food.

For Harry Warganegara, the representative of Indonesia, the commitment displayed by the Philippines could lead to bigger hosting duties in the future.

"I think in the future, I believe the Filipinos can host the bigger games, the Asian Games, or even the Olympics. Why not?" exclaimed Warganegara.

With the SEA Games looming ever closer, Games COO Ramon "Tats" Suzara has guaranteed that the building of facilities is on track, with many of the venues expected to be finished by the end of September or early October.

Suzara added that there will be about 20 sports in Clark, 15 to 18, primarily water-based events, in Subic, and major events such as basketball, volleyball, boxing, and other team sports to be held in Metro Manila.

The Philippines, meanwhile, laid out its plans on how to address the traffic situation during Christmas season by putting up dedicated lanes for the athletes, who will be transported through shuttles. Other athletes, meanwhile, will be booked in hotels closest to the venues.

Cambodia, the host of the 2023 edition, will closely observe the Philippine edition to take notes for its first-ever SEA Games hosting.

"For us, we will not only participate and compete in this event, but we will come to learn on how [the Philippines] will host the SEA Games," said Sokvisal Nhan, the Director of the International Relations department of the Cambodian National Olympic Committee.

All countries were represented at the meeting, including Dr. Muhd Zamri Dato Hamdani (Brunei), Sengphone Ponamath (Laos), Kyaw in Moe (Myanmar), Chris Chan (representative, Singapore), Thana Chaiprasit (Thailand), Than Duc Phan (Vietnam), and Vicente C. Da Silva (Timor Leste).

After the meeting, the chefs de missions will head to Pampanga and to New Clark City in Tarlac Friday for an ocular inspection of the game venues.