‘World-class’ Southeast Asian Games end with rocking closing ceremony

Athletes march during the closing ceremony of the SEA Games (Southeast Asian Games) at the athletics stadium in Clark, north of Manila, on Dec. 11, 2019. (AFP / TED ALJIBE)
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Updated 12 December 2019

‘World-class’ Southeast Asian Games end with rocking closing ceremony

  • Around 8,750 athletes and officials took part in the biggest-ever SEA Games across ten days of competition
  • For the first time ever eSports became a medal event at an Olympic-recognized multi-sport competition

CLARK, Philippines: The 30th Southeast Asia Games ended on Wednesday with a rocking closing ceremony in the 20,000-seater purpose-built stadium in Clark, as host nation Philippines ran away winners with 149 gold medals.
After a chaotic start beset by organizational gaffes, a presidential apology and online mockery, the Games were briefly hit by a deadly typhoon, but organizers worked round the clock to get the schedule back on track.
“This year, Christmas has come early,” chairman of the organizing committee Alan Peter Cayetano said to thousands of flag-waving fans in the stadium after each country’s athletes had paraded by.
“We Southeast Asians, we Filipinos, have shown the world that we can do it with world class quality.”
Around 8,750 athletes and officials took part in the biggest-ever SEA Games across ten days of competition, involving sportsmen and women from 11 countries in venues across Clark, Manila and Subic in the country’s north.




Medal standings n the South East Asia Games 2019. (Courtesy: SEAG 2019 official site)

Once the celebrations have died down however, organizers will face a government probe after the embarrassing build-up to the Games generated the wrong kind of headlines and a mocking hashtag #SEAGamesFail.
The Games were also slammed by Typhoon Kammuri which forced about half of the events to be rescheduled for one day.

Kammuri’s fierce winds toppled trees and flattened flimsy homes across a swathe of the nation’s north, and forced a rare 12-hour shutdown of Manila’s international airport.
Despite 13 deaths in the storm, none of the athletes, officials or 12,000 volunteers was reported hurt and a full program resumed soon after.
At the Games’ many venues there were disappointing performances for some of the region’s biggest stars.
Singaporean Olympic champion Joseph Schooling was expected to take several golds in the pool, but walked away with just one individual title.
The 24-year-old famously beat his idol, US legend Michael Phelps, at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the 100m butterfly final, but was out of form and out of shape just seven months away from Tokyo 2020.
And home favorite, the world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo, won just two out of the seven golds he was going for.

In the most heroic highlight of the Games, Filipino surfer Roger Casugay leapt from his board to help an Indonesian opponent who had gotten into difficulty in choppy waters. Casugay become an online sensation and earned praises from the president of Indonesia. He later went on to win a gold medal, even beating the rival he rescued on his way to glory.


However, there were some impressive displays, including many from Vietnam who came second with 98 golds, including the men’s football title.
For many though, the actions of local surfer Roger Casugay will be the highlight of the Games.
Casugay became an online sensation after he leapt from his board to help an opponent who had got into difficulty in choppy waters.
He later went on to win a gold medal, even beating the rival he rescued on his way to glory.
And for the first time ever eSports became a medal event at an Olympic-recognized multi-sport competition.
Players from nine countries competed at a darkened arena in Manila over six days for medals in Mobile Legends, Arena of Valor, Dota 2, Starcraft II, Tekken 7 and Hearthstone.
To mark the official end of the Games thousands heard a medley of rock songs by former Journey lead singer, the Filipino Arnel Pineda, whose setlist included “Sweet Child o Mine” by Guns N’ Roses and Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”

 

 


Africa Cup switch to winter sends a chill through European leagues

Updated 21 January 2020

Africa Cup switch to winter sends a chill through European leagues

  • High-profile African players playing in England include the Arsenal duo Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang of Gabon and Nicolas Pepe of Cote d’Ivoire

CAIRO: There is little doubt that the switch by the Africa Cup of Nations from summer to winter competition will have a big impact on European competitions, with those at the top of the Premier League perhaps most affected.

The confederation confirmed that from 2021 when Cameroon will play host, the tournament will revert back to being played in January and February.

The tournament was moved to a June-July slot for last year’s edition in Egypt, which meant minimal disruption to the European domestic season. But plenty of Premier League managers will be left with problems this time next year, with several stars likely to leave for up to six weeks, including pre-tournament preparations.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp appears to face the biggest headache given that two of his star attacking players, Mohamed Salah from Egypt and Sadio Mane from Senegal, both featured in the African tournament last summer and are almost certain to be involved in the 2021 competition in some capacity.

High-profile African players playing in England include the Arsenal duo Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang of Gabon and Nicolas Pepe of Cote d’Ivoire, while Manchester City will lose Riyad Mahrez should Algeria feature.

Klopp is critical of the decision to move the tournament dates, calling it “a catastrophe.” Salah and Mane’s absence would leave huge gaps in the Liverpool side. There is also Cameroon’s Joel Matip and Guinea’s Naby Keita to worry about. Matip has become solid at the back. Keita, too, would be a loss given his recent resurgence.

The Liverpool manager is upset because last year’s tournament was moved to mid-year to end a long-standing clash between clubs and countries over the release of their players. It was felt that common sense had prevailed when the tournament, which since 1960 had always been held during winter, reverted to summer. African players in western European clubs would no longer find themselves the target of competing claims for their attention every other season, which would benefit the players and their clubs and countries, and lead to fewer squabbles.

But then Cameroon changed its mind about hosting the tournament in summer next year, changing the dates from June and July to between Jan. 6 and Feb. 6. Why? The weather. It’s simply too hot in Cameroon in summer.

Organizers said they had agreed to the change after discussions with player and coach representatives.

But didn’t Cameroon know beforehand that its summers are too hot, too humid and right in the middle of its rainy season? That the country does not enjoy ideal conditions for football in summer could not have taken its organizers by complete surprise.

The situation serves as a vivid reminder of the botch-up of the 2022 Qatar World Cup. The host and FIFA decided that the World Cup, which is forever played in summer, would be moved to winter because of Qatar’s oppressive heat — but that decision came only after Qatar won the bid. That change, again, will mean a head-on clash with international tournaments and club competitions.

A football tournament simply cannot keep changing when it will be held as often as people change their socks. This is especially true for the Africa Cup of Nations, which is played every two years.

A major sports tournament must have fixed times. And, to be sure, its organizers should understand that you can’t please everybody. A championship’s times are bound to clash with some tournament or other. The African tournament, for example, will avoid a clash with FIFA’s revamped 24-team Club World Cup to be played in China in June and July 2021. But it cannot but conflict with European leagues. The important thing is to stay the course. Once a date is picked, it should be stuck to like glue.