SEA Games: Boxing champion Pacquiao to light cauldron at opening ceremony

In a photo taken on Jul 20, 2019, Manny Pacquiao boxes against Keith Thurman (not pictured) during their WBA welterweight championship bout at MGM Grand Garden Arenain Las Vegas. PHOTO: REUTERS/USA TODAY

MANILA (XINHUA) - Filipino boxing champions Manny Pacquiao and Nesthy Petecio will light the cauldron at the opening ceremony of 2019 SEA Games on Saturday (Nov 30).

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham Tolentino revealed on Wednesday that the athletes would serve as torchbearers to officially mark the start of the biennial multi-sport event.

The eight-division world champion Pacquiao is regarded by many boxing historians and fans as one of the greatest professional boxers of all time, while 27-year-old Petecio, who ruled the featherweight division of the 2019 AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships, is seeking her first gold medal at the SEA Games.

Gymnastics world champion Carlos Yulo was initially tipped to carry the torch but was replaced since he will immediately head into action on Dec 1.

The opening ceremony will take place at Philippine Arena in Bulacan Province in the northern Philippines, but the cauldron tower is located at the newly-built athletics stadium and aquatics centre in New Clark City, Tarlac Province.

Tolentino and Philippine South-east Asian Games Organising Committee (PHISGOC) chief operating officer Ramon Suzara did not divulge further details of the opening ceremonies.

"You will only know when you attend," Suzara said at the Wednesday's media briefing, noting that the means of lighting the SEA Games cauldron remains top secret. "Everywhere you go, organisers won't tell you (about) the programme," he added.

PHISGOC staged a dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony at Philippine Arena on Tuesday, according to Suzara. "Everything is now in order," Suzara said.

The Philippines is to host the 2019 SEA Games for a fourth time, with this year's edition running from Nov 30 to Dec 11.

Over 10,000 athletes from 11 countries will see action in 56 sports and over 530 events spread across 39 venues on the country's main Luzon island.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.