Philippines pulls out of hosting 2019 SEA Games

A Filipino soldier walks as government troops continue their assault against insurgents from the Maute group in Marawi city, Philippines on July 1, 2017.
A Filipino soldier walks as government troops continue their assault against insurgents from the Maute group in Marawi city, Philippines on July 1, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA • The Philippines has pulled out of hosting the 2019 SEA Games to focus on rebuilding a city ravaged by a two-month battle between security forces and Islamic militants, the government said yesterday.

The country's sports officials formally abandoned their plans to host the games after a series of meetings with President Rodrigo Duterte, said Philippine Sports Commission chairman William Ramirez.

"Resources shall be focused on rehabilitation and rebuilding of Marawi instead of funding the 2019 hosting of the South-east Asian Games," Mr Ramirez said.

Muslim militants flying the black flag of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria occupied parts of the southern city of Marawi two months ago, triggering prolonged fighting with military forces.

Mr Duterte has imposed martial law over the southern third of the Philippines to stamp out the militant threat.

Ironically, the Philippines had stepped in to host the 2019 Games after original host Brunei pulled out in 2015. It last hosted the biennnial affair in 2005.

Hosting duties are traditionally rotated among SEA Games member nations.

This year's edition will take place in Kuala Lumpur from Aug 19-30.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2017, with the headline 'Philippines pulls out of hosting 2019 SEA Games'. Print Edition | Subscribe