Thailand willing to replace insurgency-plagued Philippines as 2019 SEA Games host

Torch of South East Asian Games (SEA Games) is lit during the KL2017 Torch Run in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Aug 6, 2017.
Torch of South East Asian Games (SEA Games) is lit during the KL2017 Torch Run in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Aug 6, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

BANGKOK (Bernama) - Thailand is ready to host the 2019 SEA Games if the Philippines sticks with its decision to withdraw from hosting the next edition of the biennial games, a senior Thai official said on Tuesday (Aug 8).

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

"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 Thai media as saying.

Vietnam will host the Games in 2021, followed by Cambodia two years later.

The Philippines Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez had announced his country's withdrawal as 2019 SEA Games host due to the ongoing ISIS-linked insurgency in the southern city of Marawi.

Philippine soldiers have for months been battling rebel militant for control of Marawi, leaving hundreds of civilian, militants and soldiers dead and thousands more displaced. Ramirez said  the government's resources should go to the rehabilitation and rebuilding of Marawi.

Thailand is able to host the 2019 SEA Games as the event doesn't require an athletes village, said Arirachakaran. Provinces such as Chiang Mai and Chonburi have enough competition venues and are capable of accomodating a large number of athletes.

Thailand will send 404 athletes to the 2017 SEA Games which begins on Aug 19 in Kuala Lumpur.