Philippines withdraws as 2019 SEA Games hosts

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MANILA: The Philippines has withdrawn its plan to host the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2019 due to the terrorism threat that continues to hang over the Mindanao region in the southern Philippines, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

In a letter to the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), Philippine Sports Commission chairman William Ramirez announced yesterday the decision of the Philippines to withdraw its hosting of the biennial meet in 2019.

“Due to the current situation in Mindanao, the problem of terrorism and atrocities, we regret to inform you (POC) that we will no longer push through with the hosting of the biennial meet,” Ramirez said in his letter to the POC.

“It has been resolved that government resources be focused on the rehabilitation and the rebuilding of Mindanao especially Marawi (City) and Lanao,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez was apparently referring to the ongoing war between Philippine security forces and the extremists allied with Daesh (Islamic State) in Marawi City in the southern Philippine Lanao del Sur province.

The fighting in Marawi broke out on May 23 after militants raided the city, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to impose a 60-day martial law in the entire Mindanao.

Ramirez said the Philippines is considering hosting sporting events after 2020 once the country’s peace and order situation has stabilised.