Thailand willing to replace Philippines as 2019 SEA Games host

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BANGKOK: Thailand is ready to step in and host the 2019 SEA Games if the Philippines, which is supposed to host the biennial games, sticks with its decision to withdraw from organising it.

Olympic Committee of Thailand (OCT) secretary-general Charouck Arirachakaran said Thailand’s offer to host the games would also depend on whether any other country steps in to replace the Philippines.

“The Philippines must make its withdrawal official during the SEA Games Federation Council meeting on Aug 17-18 in Kuala Lumpur,” he was quoted by the local media here today.

Vietnam would be hosting the Games in 2021, while Cambodia two years later.

Thailand, he said, had the potential to host the 2019 SEA Games within a span of two years as it doesn’t require an athletes village.

Provinces such as Chiang Mai and Chonburi said Arirachakaran, have enough competition venues and are capable of accommodating a large number of athletes.

Thailand will be sending 404 athletes to the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games which begins on Aug 19.

Philippines Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez, in a recent statement, announced his country’s withdrawal from being the 2019 SEA Games host due to the ongoing security crisis in Marawi.

The Philippines Armed Forces has for months been battling the Islamic State-inspired rebel groups for the control of Marawi city, leaving hundreds of civilian, militants and soldiers dead and thousands more displaced.

The PSC said the government’s resources should go to the rehabilitation and rebuilding of Marawi, located in the southern island of Mindanao.