What else is there to say about the 2019 SEA Games that hasn’t been said yet?
We’re going to say it outright: It’s a hot mess and the Philippine government is doing a bad job at trying to pacify the situation—from the overpriced cauldron at New Clark City Athletics Stadium to the hotel accommodations and the kikiam meal. These logistical nightmares happened days before the actual SEA Games opening happening on Nov. 30, and we’re still seeing more as of writing this article.
People have been calling SEA Games 2019 the Philippines’ version of Fyre Festival. We hate to say it, but this is making Fyre look good.
It’s not just our foreign visitors who are affected by this—even our own athletes. They don’t just need support in sports at this point, but in getting through the whole SEA Games if the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) doesn’t get their act together.
Speaking of lack of support, consider our national athletes. Our country loves to hype up our Filipino teams and athletes when they compete abroad, but many of them still lack financial support from the government. One example is weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz who called on the government multiple times to give her funds to train for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
In line with this, we wanted to focus on some female athletes who will compete in the 30th SEA Games. Male-dominated sports may be popular in our country, but that doesn’t mean the women don’t work just as hard to represent the Philippines.
Pauline Lopez, taekwondo
Pauline Lopez is the first Filipina to win a gold medal in the 2016 Asian Taekwondo Championship. She also won bronze in the 2018 Asian Games and gold in the SEA Games 2015. In an interview with Preen.ph, Lopez says she hopes the Philippines supports athletes from the grassroots, not just when they win overseas.
Margielyn Didal, skateboarding
Skateboarder Margielyn Didal has been competing and winning awards internationally since she was 14 years old. Last year, she won gold in the Asian Games and became part of Time Magazine’s “25 Most Influential Teens of 2018” list. Didal recently underwent months of therapy and physical assessment to address lingering injuries as preparation for the 2019 SEA Games.
However, it seems like the construction of the skate park near the Tagaytay International Convention Center is behind schedule. As of Nov. 25th, the 1,000-capacity venue was still 93 to 95 percent complete. There’s no news yet on whether the venue will be ready in time for the skateboarding competition happening starting Dec. 3.
The controversy surrounding the skateboarding community doesn’t stop there. Filipina skateboarder Kiddo Trinidad was allegedly kicked out from the SEA Games roster for refusing to apologize for “exposing the truth on social media.”
Jasmine Alkhaldi, swimming
Jasmine Alkhaldi represented the Philippines in the 2009 SEA Games in Laos, 2012 Summer Olympics, and 2016 Rio Olympics. This year, she will be competing in New Clark City Athletics Stadium. Swimming is one out of the four sports competitions that will be held in the venue with the P50-million cauldron.
Agatha Wong, wushu
Agatha Wong won bronze in the 2018 Asian Games. She is one of two Filipino favorites to win gold in wushu at this year’s SEA Games.
Jack Danielle Animam, basketball
Jack Danielle Animam is part of the Philippines’ women’s basketball team. She is part of National University’s (NU) Lady Bulldogs team and the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup team.
Women’s football team
Our national women’s football team made headlines when they competed in the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament last April. The team is set to face Myanmar and Malaysia this week.
Unfortunately, even these ladies experienced the now-infamous mishaps days before the 30th SEA Games. According to Inquirer.net, the team had issues with accommodations and were only given kikiam, egg, and rice for breakfast.
These are just some of the female athletes that deserve everyone’s support and attention. But people should also remember that just because we are supporting our Filipino athletes doesn’t mean we should ignore what is happening with the SEA Games logistics. We’ve seen several people on social media already who would rather “spread positivity” than criticize the government. Heck, I heard a woman on TV say we should just pray for our athlete’s success because it’s more shameful to lose in our homeland.
Local and foreign athletes deserve better treatment than this. As citizens, we should continue raising these concerns and hold whoever’s in charge accountable for this mess. The government should also remember that the actions made here will reflect badly on them and our country.
Best of luck to everyone!
Photo courtesy of the Philippine Football Federation’s Instagram account
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