Malaysia formally hands over SEAG hosting to PH
KUALA LUMPUR—The Philippines officially claimed hosting rights for the 30th Southeast Asian Games from Malaysia on Thursday. Taking the overall crown from the previous hosts, however, may be a lot trickier.
Malaysia is dead serious in retaining its overall title in the SEA Games, as it will send an army of 1,061 athletes vying in all but four of the 56 sports in the coming 11-nation sportsfest the Philippines will host later this year.
Top Malaysian sports officials, led by Olympic Council of Malaysia president Norza Zakaria, handed over the symbolic SEA Games flame to the Philippines on Thursday at Bukit Jalil National Stadium here.
Though it had formally transferred the responsibility of organizing the Games and relinquishing control, Malaysia has no plans of relinquishing the throne as the region’s best.
“When they hosted the SEA Games [in 2017], the Malaysians worked hard to win the overall championship on their turf,” said Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) chief operating officer Ramon Suzara.
From Kuala Lumpur, the lantern that carries the flame will go through a series of torch relays in Davao City, Cebu City and Clark.
In between those activities, the torch will likewise be presented to President Duterte in Malacañang, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The final destination for the torch will be the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, during the opening ceremonies of the Games on Nov. 30.
Receiving the flame with Suzara from Zakaria and top Malaysian sports officials were Philippine Sports Commission Commissioner Celia Kiram and Philippine Olympic Committee board member Cynthia Carrion.
“As we received the flame from Malaysia, we also received the responsibilities that come with hosting the Games,” Suzara said.
Also present during the handover were Phisgoc director of support and operations Jojit Alcazar, Phisgoc deputy director general for athletes village Arrey Perez and Capas, Tarlac, Mayor Reynaldo Catacutan.
New Clark City, the hub of the Games, is located in Capas, Tarlac, while Subic and Metro Manila form the two other clusters that will host the majority of the sports.
Filipino athletes Pauline Lopez (taekwondo), Ian Clark Bautista (boxing) and two-time SEA Games gold medalist Nikko Huelgas (triathlon) also witnessed the ceremony.