MANILA -- The presence of all 11 competing nations in the 30th Philippine Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) was formally recognized during a simple flag-raising ceremony held at the plaza of the Athletes Village at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac on Friday morning.
The delegations were welcomed by Athletes Village Mayor Arrey Perez, Bases Conversion and Development Authority vice president for business development, according to Team Philippines deputy chef de mission Stephen Fernandez.
All present and accounted for were the contingents of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam, and the host Philippines, Fernandez said, adding that the colors of the respective countries were raised in alphabetical order.
“Of course, as the host, the Philippines was the last country to raise the national flag,” he said.
“It was a very simple program with either the chief of mission or deputy chief of mission leading the respective delegations,” said Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Commissioner Ramon Fernandez, who represented chairman Butch Ramirez, the national team chef de mission (CDM).
Fernandez, one of the deputy CDM, said he showed up at the flag-raising rites together with some arnis athletes who are billeted at the Village, and members of the medical staff.
“There was an exchange of tokens while Perez gave an inspirational talk, reminding everyone of maintaining the spirit of fair play and sportsmanship when the actual competition begins and urging everyone in making the SEA Games a success,” he said.
The event was held before the opening ceremonies of the 30th edition of the regional sports showcase on Saturday at the 50,000-seater Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan before the SEA Games goes full blast the next day.
“We expect a lot of athletes and officials to start streaming into the Athletes Village today,” Fernandez said, baring that aside from the aquatics and athletics squads, other campaigners vying in neighboring Pampanga will also be quartered at the New Clark City (NCC) Athletes Village. “The men’s and women’s softball teams have begun moving in and the other athletes who will be seeing action in Pampanga will also have their quarters here.”
Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) executive director Ramon Suzara thanked all the sports officials and athletes of the 11 SEA Games members for participating in the flag-raising ceremony.
“I would like to thank all the 11 countries for doing their best to make in the flag-raising in the athletes’ village,” Suzara said in a press conference at the NCC Sports Hub on Friday.
Some 11,000 athletes and officials will participate in the biggest SEA Games in terms of sports disciplines. The athletes will battle for 530 events in 56 sports.
The Games’ opening ceremonies will be held for the first time in an indoor stadium, the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan on Saturday.
The Phisgoc officials said athletes and delegates, as well as spectators, can expect a grand opening ceremony that is “full of surprises.”
“For now, we will keep secret some major highlights of the opening ceremonies but we have prepared a lot of surprises that you will surely enjoy,” Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham Tolentino said in a previous media briefing.
Tolentino said President Rodrigo Duterte was invited to grace the opening rites of the SEA Games’ 30th edition, which carries the theme “We Win As One”. (PNA)