SEA Games on  today in the spirit of unity

Published November 29, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

Finally, the 2019 Southeast Asian  Games  (SEAG) hosted by  the Philippines begin  today. This is the  30th   they began  in 1959  with six countries  competing in 12 sports. Today’s games  bring together athletes from 11 nations  vying for medals  in 56 sports  in  530 events.

President  Duterte will open the Games in ceremonies to be held at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.  The various sports  competitions will be held in four clusters of  venues  — Clark, Subic-Olongapo,  Metro Manila, and  stand-alone venues in various parts of Luzon.

Athletics will be at the New Clark City Athletic  Stadium  in Capas, Tarlac, built specifically for SEAG 2019. Nearby  is  the New Clark City Aquatic Center for swimming, diving, and other  water competitions.  Baseball and softball,  shooting, archery,  golf, and judo are among the events to be held in nearby  towns  and cities.

The Metro Manila Cluster – including Rizal Memorial Stadium and Coliseum  and SM Mall of Asia—will  host  skating, bowling, billiards, weightlifting, football, tennis, gymnastics,  boxing, basketball, and several other sports.

Boat races, sailing, chess, triathlon, pentathlon are among the sports to be held  in the  Subic  Cluster.

The Fourth  Cluster, including Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and La Union will host such sports as polo, football, and  cycling,

The 2019 Games were originally awarded  to Brunei in 2012 but it pulled out due to  funding and other  reasons. The Philippines agreed  to take over,  but after the Marawi  Siege in 2017, the Philippine government  also withdrew,   as it  needed  the funds  for the rehabilitation of  Marawi. Thailand and Indonesia  then offered  to  take over, but  the Philippines  announced  a reversal of  its withdrawal.

More recently, there has  been  some controversy  over opposition charges  on the funding of some projects, including that cauldron at Clark whose  flame will be burning during the entire  competition.  Then came the problems met by arriving athletes  and  other allegations of incompetence by the organizing committee.  President  Duterte has ordered an investigation. But that will have to be done later, Malacanang  said.

For today, all attention will be focused on  the  games that will bring together the best athletes of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos,  Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, East Timor, Vietnam, and the Philippines.  The opening ceremony will  be an opportunity for us to highlight our culture as a nation through  design, music, and dance.

When the Southeast Asian games were first proposed in  1958  by delegates  attending the Asian  Games in Tokyo,  the organizers said  a regional sports event  would  help promote understanding and closer relations among the countries of this part of the world.  Since the first games in 1959, they have been  held  every two years in pursuit of this goal.

It is in this spirit of regional  unity  that the 2019 Southeast Asian Games  officially begin  today. So let  the games begin!