SEA Games? Here? Really?

Five weeks ago, I had no idea that the South East Asian Games were taking place right here in the Philippines. In fact, it took a Singaporean friend’s excitement over the SEA Games to make me aware of it.

On Sunday, November 27, the SEA Games will officially commence. For the past four weeks I’ve seen banners and billboards from Globe Telecom celebrating its status as official telecom partner of the SEA Games. this whole week at UP Diliman the Pre-SEA Games Conference on Sports Science was held at the Film Center and Bahay ng Alumni. This morning as I walked through Holiday Inn Galleria’s lobby to take the elevator down to my car (I’d come from Gold’s Gym Galleria), I saw that the hotel was an official partner hotel for the SEA Games as well: part of the delegation from Singapore was checking in at the front desk. I think they were the badminton team, since there were several Yonex badminton racquet bags lying on a table near them.

Still, I don’t feel much fanfare about these Games. The Malaysian Star reports that you wouldn’t even know the biggest sporting event in the region was going to kick off here in Manila.

From the Malaysian Star:
The planes into the Ninoy Aquino International Airport are packed with incoming athletes and officials. But step out of the airport, and it’s just another day in the town.

There are hardly any banners to herald the 23rd SEA Games, which begin in two days. There is no excitement and even the mascot, the eagle, is nowhere in sight.

At the airport, though, singing girls and bands welcome the Games “families” and Immigration and Customs clearance is a breeze while policemen and security personnel greet visitors with big smiles.

The Malaysian Star also reports that the Malaysian athletes are being crammed into small hotel rooms (three athletes to a 10-foot by 10-foot room) even though the Olympic Council of Malaysia is paying for the accommodations.

While I’m honored that the Philippines is hosting the Games, I’m embarrassed that they come at this time of political turmoil and financial belt-tightening. That the SEA Games are being used as a diplomatic tool (akin to India and Pakistan’s “cricket diplomacy”) isn’t much of a morale-booster, either.

To know more about the Philippine involvement with the SEA Games, the Philippine Daily Inquirer has a good write-up on it. The article doesn’t have what I really want to know, though, and that is: where are they going to hold the Games’s tennis tournament? Ü

UPDATE: a fellow tennis-obsessed friend of mine found two articles (Manila Standard and Inquirer) on Cecil Mamiit and Eric Taino representing the Philippines at the SEA Games tennis tournament in Rizal Memorial Stadium (where else?). The two Fil-Ams play on the ATP Tour and represented the US up until this year.

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