Bust out your pom-poms and get ready to cheer for your favorite athletes as they compete at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), taking place from November 30 to December 11. “It’s always more exciting when the event [is] here in the [Philippines], when [our athletes] can compete with other countries and do it in front of the home crowd,” says Stephen Fernandez, deputy chef de mission of Team Philippines at the upcoming Games. Here’s everything you need to know about the biennial sporting extravaganza.
What are the SEA Games?
Think of it as the Olympics but for the Southeast Asian region. The participating countries are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. The sports included aren’t necessarily official Olympic events and the list changes with every edition.
What can we expect?
Facilities were constructed and refurbished across Clark, Subic and Metro Manila, including newly built stadiums at the New Clark City development for athletics and swimming. This edition features a record 56 sports, with new additions like beach handball, underwater hockey and even esports.
What’s up with that logo?
The official logo depicts the 11 rings representing the members of the Southeast Asian Games Federation, arranged in the shape of the Philippines. It wasn’t very well received online, but Stephen says that we should instead focus on what’s really important: “Let’s unite behind this and look forward to the event itself.”
Not sure which of the 530 events at the 30th Southeast Asian Games you should watch? These are good places to start:
Weightlifting — Here’s your chance to watch 2016 Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz in action. Making her sixth appearance at the regional event, Hidilyn is still on a quest to bag her first SEA Games gold medal.
Swimming — Star swimmer Joseph Schooling will be in town as part of the Singapore contingent. He won Singapore’s first-ever Olympic gold in 2016, breaking international records for the 100m butterfly along the way.
Basketball — Basketball is practically a religion in the Philippines. Watch as the men’s team try to continue their long reign as SEA Games champs.
Volleyball — This sport has become massively popular in the Philippines in recent years, almost rivaling basketball in terms of fanbase and fan fervor. Local games play out in front of sold-out crowds and players of the women’s volleyball teams have reached celeb status, so expect the energy to be electric.
For schedules and ticketing info, visit 2019seagames.com.
This story first appeared in the October 2019 issue of Smile magazine.