Philippine Olympic Committee president Ricky Vargas
POC chief on Indonesia SEAG hosting takeover: 'Fake news'
Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) - March 22, 2019 - 5:21pm

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Olympic Committee president Ricky Vargas on Thursday branded as “fake news” reports that the Philippines is not capable of staging the 30th Southeast Asian Games in November, and that Indonesia is willing to take over the hosting.
“First of all, our SEA Games will push through. I don’t know why people are saying that it won’t,” Vargas said Thursday at the close of the POG general assembly at the Meralco headquarters in Ortigas.

An Indonesian news outlet on Thursday cited the alleged failure of the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) to secure the budget to run the Games from November 30 to December 11.

It also mentioned that Indonesia, which hosted the 2018 Asian Games, is the “strongest option” to take over the hosting. The report also said if the budget is not released by April, the Philippine hosting will be called off.

“These are all fake news — whoever is spreading the news. We are in the middle of what we’re doing. Why would we discourage our athletes?” said the POC president.

Rep. Abraham Tolentino, the POC chairman, laughed off the reports.

“We are moving forward. There are challenges but we are facing them. The countries have submitted their entries by number. We are proceeding with the hosting,” he said.

“President Duterte has given the order to proceed. Definitely, we will not give up the hosting. We are all working on the hosting. Nothing will stop us from hosting the SEA Games,” Tolentino added.

Thursday’s general assembly was well-attended, and the country’s top sports leaders were present.

While there’s a shortage in funds from PHISGOC, which has yet to draw the money from the government to run the Games, the POC shelled out some of its own for the NSAs (national sports associations).

Vargas granted P100,000 each to all 56 NSAs involved in the coming SEA Games.

“Just a little help for the NSAs. We drew the money from the POC sponsorships. The NSAs can spend the money until we get the budget from the government. It’s not that we’re not getting anything from the PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) but it’s a long process,” said Vargas.

“It’s not a big amount but the NSAs need it at least for their administrative expenses,” said Tolentino.

Vargas spoke about the country’s hosing of the SEA Games for only the fourth time in history, and cited the importance of everybody working hand in hand, and free of politics.

“We know what we have to do — from PHISGOC to the POC to the PSC. PHISGOC is working hard every day, in fairness to (PHISGOC chairman) Alan Peter Cayetano,” added Vargas.

He is hoping to sit down with Cayetano and PSC chairman William Ramirez soon.

“It’s PHISGOC, the POC and the PSC in this SEA Games hosting,” said Vargas, very optimistic of a successful staging of the Games and a strong podium finish for the Filipino athletes.

“It will all happen,” he said.

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