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No new facilities for SEAG – Butch

Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez has ruled out building new facilities for the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) which the country is hosting in 2019.

“I don’t think there’s time to build new facilities. We will just refurbish existing ones and rent venues like the Mall of Asia and the Philippine Arena,” said Ramirez who was PSC chief when the country last hosted the Games in 2005.

Ramirez said Metro Manila will remain the amain hub of the two-week long competition, although Davao del Norte had offered to host some of the events.

“It will all depend if the venues there will be up to international standards, but I’m sure Davaoeños are excited to play host to the Games,” said Ramirez.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) first vice-president Joey Romasanta, however, disclosed that the SEAG Federation requested not to hold events outside of Luzon.

“The federation understands our situation, but does not wish to travel to another island for the other events,” said Romasanta.

Romasanta said the POC welcomes the appointment of Senator Miguel Zubiri as chairman of the 2019 SEAG organizing committee.

“Being a sportsman himself, he’s a good choice,” he said.

Zubiri, an arnis practitioner, was set to meet with Ramirez and POC president Jose Cojuangco yesterday.

In 2005, the Games were also held in Bacolod City, Cebu City, Los Banos and Canlubang in Laguna, Tagaytay City, Angeles City and the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Zambales.

The Quirino Grandstand, site of the opening and closing ceremonies in the 2005 Games, will most likely be used for the same purpose, according to Ramirez.

Ramirez said renovation of facilities inside the Rizal Memorial sports complex where many of the events will be held will start this month.

Among those to be refurbished are the Rizal Memorial coliseum and the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

Ramirez said they are also considering the track stadium being built by the Ayalas in Cavite as a possible site.

“We have committed to raise the money and provide the facilities needed. The POC and the SEAG Federation will run the organization of the Games,” said Ramirez.

The country spent less than R300 million in 2005 and Ramirez estimates the cost to be 20 percent higher in 2019.

Despite disagreements with delinquent national sports associations (NSAs), Ramirez said they continue to support the athletes and coaches.

However, Ramirez said the PSC is putting emphasis on its grassroots development program with the help of local government units (LGUs).

“This is in line with President Duterte’s wish to make sports accessible to all,” he said.

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