Cheers! See you in Davao in 2019
CALL it a belated coming-out grand ball: Three years after producing the first President of the Philippines from Mindanao, Davao City will play host to the Southeast Asian Games in 2019.
Philippine Sports Commission Chair William “Butch” Ramirez confirmed earlier in the week that President Duterte has given the go-signal for the celebration of the biennial sports festival and competition among the youths of Southeast Asia in Davao City.
The hosting of the 2019 Games, originally offered to Brunei Darussalam, was intended for Manila, which had done it three times before—in 1981, 1991, 2005.
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Ramirez, who definitely knows what’s best for Philippine sports, wasted no time and decided to convince the President to have the SEA Games, a competition among athletes from 11 nations in the region, held in the city that Mr. Duterte has transformed into a model capital during his uninterrupted term as mayor.
From Ramirez’s account, President Duterte did not tarry before giving his nod.
The PSC chief said he has talked to several people in the corporate world, who all promised to lend a helping hand.
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Ramirez said a letter of acceptance [to host] has been submitted to the Southeast Asian Games Federation by a group of Filipino officials headed by Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose Cojuangco Jr.
“This is the first time an international sports event of this magnitude will be held in Davao , and I’m sure the President will do everything to ensure its success,” Ramirez told veteran sportswriter Eddie Alinea.
Ramirez was the PSC chief in 2005 when the Philippines, as host, topped the Southeast Asian Games overall medal race for the first time. The Philippines first participated in 1977.
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The SEA Games hosting, needless to say, augurs well not for Davao alone, but for Mindanao as a whole.
The 2019 Games will definitely push progress in Mindanao, whose people had long been decrying neglect from the central government in Manila.
There are countless talents in the grassroots waiting to be tapped and developed even among the poor harassed tribes in Mindanao.
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The SEA Games hosting should also be an opportunity to revive the tested swimming program in Mindanao, mainly among seaside communities in the deep South, which used to be the source of tank internationalists the country would send to the Olympics and the Asian Games.
With the confirmation of the 2019 SEA Games hosting, it goes without saying a national sports stadium of Olympic proportions should next rise in Davao, not in Metro Manila or Clark in Pampanga as originally proposed.
See you in Duterte’s delightful Davao in 2019.
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