Solon expects shift in public sentiment come SEA Games opening

MANILA – Albay Rep. Joey Salceda on Wednesday said there will be a “tidal wave of reversal” of public sentiment on the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games once the opening ceremonies take place on November 30.

Salceda said the Philippine 2019 hosting is expected to be the biggest in the history of the biennial event with 56 sports and 530 events to be contested by more than 11,000 athletes and team officials.

“These games will make you proud as a Filipino… ‘Yung mga nega dyan (Those who are negative about it), you will eat your own words,” Salceda said.

Salceda said hosting the SEA Games is a “great opportunity and privilege” for the country, considering that the global sports industry is valued at USD620 billion, which includes sports infrastructure construction, sporting goods, licensed products, and sporting events, growing faster than the gross domestic products of China, India, Brazil, and Russia.

“Hosting an international multi-sport event is a matter of national pride. There is no price tag for that. It will showcase our people, our culture, and our values. It also benefits the country’s efforts in tourism foreign investment and international sports tourism industry,” Salceda said.

The current budget allocated for the hosting of the 30th SEA Games is PHP6 billion.

Salceda noted that while the SEA Games fund is a big amount, it is “not excessive.”

He cited that Singapore spent PHP12 billion in 2015 for hosting 36 sports and 402 events, while Malaysia invested PHP6.3 billion for hosting 39 sports and 404 events in 2017.

“After the 30th SEA Games, there is a greater opportunity, with a lot of economic returns to bid for bigger international multi-sport events like the 2022 Asian Indoor Martial Arts, 2030 Asian Games or even one day the Olympic Games,” Salceda said.

“The Philippines will even host the FIBA World Cup 2023 even if there are great but limited facilities available,” he added.

He said the New Clark City Athletics Stadium and Aquatics Center, the flagship venue of the 30th SEA Games, including the Athletes Village which can house 1,575 athletes, shall continue to be used by local athletes for their training.

These facilities are intended to be a regional, national, and international sports hub, which is integrated into the whole development of the New Clark City and the entire National Government Administrative Center.

“With the view to tap into USD620 billion global sports industry, the NCC Sports Facilities can also host international teams and athletes from countries with harsh winters who wish to train in warmer and under more conducive conditions,” he said.

“The NCC and its facilities will not go to waste as this will be used as the proposed Philippine Sports Training Center as well as the intended Philippine Sports Academy,” he added.

Logistical mishaps and corruption allegations have hounded the country’s hosting of the 30th SEA Games.

Foreign and local athletes and journalists have complained of problems with accommodation, food, facilities, transportation among others.

President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing an investigation on the matter, which would include Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) Foundation Inc. chairman, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, and the controversial PHP50-million cauldron project.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte, who just arrived from an official trip, was “displeased” by what he has been hearing about the regional multi-sport which will run from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

“The President is not pleased by what he has been hearing about the certain snafu, certain delays, certain allegations of athletes not being fed properly, of athletes arriving late or not on time delivered to their places of rest or residence. He’s displeased,” Panelo said in a televised interview.

Ayaw niya ‘yun (He doesn’t want that). And there were allegations of fraud na lumalabas sa diyaryo. Ayaw niya rin ‘yun (coming out on the newspapers. He doesn’t want that either). He wants to investigate that. Hindi uubra sa kanya ang corruption (He won’t tolerate corruption).”  Filane Mikee Cervantes / PNA –