Philippines fielding over 1,000 athletes
Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) - March 24, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Olympic Committee chairman and 2019 SEA Games sports committee head Abraham Tolentino yesterday said he expects as many as 1,000 athletes to represent the host country in the biennial event.

Tolentino, however, said despite the March 15 deadline for submission of entries by number for the 11 participating nations, changes in the number of sports and events are still possible.

“That’s why we cannot announce the official number yet. There could be sports or events that may be affected still,” said Tolentino during a press conference in Taguig City.

When the Philippines last hosted the SEA Games in 2005, it fielded 892 athletes in 40 sports that offered 443 gold medals. In the end, the host national won the overall title with 113 gold, 84 silver and 94 bronze medals.

The foreign countries except for Laos and Cambodia have submitted their entries by number. But Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) is still going through all the documents before the final number is released.

PHISGOC has penciled a record 56 sports and 523 events for the 30th SEA Games scheduled Nov. 30 to Dec. 11. But for an event to be included, there must be at least four countries participating.

“Otherwise, the event will be scrapped,” said Tolentino during the press conference also graced by PHISGOC chairman Alan Peter Cayetano and chief operating officer Ramon Suzara.

Cayetano reiterated that the country’s hosting will push through despite budget limitations. He added that awareness of the country’s hosting will shift to high gear by July.

The Philippine Sports Commission will kick off the awareness campaign with a pep rally for the SEA Games athletes on Tuesday at the Rizal Memorial baseball field.

“We hope that the number of sports and events will not be affected,” said Suzara, who helped draw up the master plan for the country’s fourth hosting of the SEA Games.

Tolentino is hoping for the same, adding that the country’s podium expectations in this SEA Games was based on the total number of sports and events.

“If there will be changes like if some events are scratched, then we will face a deficit in our expectations,” said the lawmaker from Tagaytay City.

“Baka kasi gumalaw pa. But we are expecting to field as many as 1,000 athletes. We are the hosts. This is our chance,” said Tolentino.

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