More than 10,000 tickets for majority of events and the closing ceremony of the 30th Southeast (SEA) Games will be given free to the public, on instructions from President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a statement, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, the chairman of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee, said all sporting events, except for basketball, volleyball and football, which are already sold-out or almost sold-out, will be open to the public.
“Upon the instructions of the President to make sure that all Filipinos who want to watch live and can be physically present sa [to the] Games, noh, the organizing committee has decided that all games na hindi pa sold-out ‘yung tickets ay i-open at i-libre na (with tickets that have not been sold-out yet, will be opened for free),” Cayetano said in an interview with reporters.
Cayetano said additional general admission complimentary tickets for the SEA Games opening ceremony on November 30 would be given out to state universities near the Philippine Arena for distribution to students.
He said in his interview that another 15,000 tickets would be distributed to provinces around the Philippine Arena, which are Tarlac, Pampanga and Bulacan, and some areas in Metro Manila.
Cayetano said the public could also watch games that are non-ticketing such as lawn ball, floorball, squash and golf.
“There are non-ticketed sports, which are open to the public and there are also no complimentary tickets due to full capacity,” Cayetano said.
He said complimentary tickets may be claimed over-the-counter on a “first come, first served basis” from SM ticket outlets for general admission. There would also be allotted general admission tickets that will be distributed by the local government units in Manila, Pasay, Pasig and Muntinlupa in Metro Manila; Sta. Rosa and Biñan, Laguna; Tagaytay, Cavite; Calatagan, Batangas; Angeles City and San Fernando, Pampanga; San Juan, La Union; Subic, Zambales; and Capas, Tarlac for specific venues.
Former Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Olympic Committee chairman Monico Puentevella, also a columnist for The Manila Times, thanked President Duterte for making the games free.
“Thank you, Mr. President, for making the [SEA] Games free. Now our people can enjoy the games. Don’t worry. We’ll win these Games hands down. Believe me. Especially now that we have the ‘home court advantage.’ Let the Games begin,” he said.
Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go urged the public to participate in the SEA Games activities and watch all the events to express their support to Filipino athletes.
“Ini-engganyo ko lahat ng mga Pilipino na magkaisa at manood tayo bilang suporta sa ating mga atleta (We are encouraging all Filipinos to unite and watch the Games as a support to our athletes),” he said.
The SEA Games, which will officially start today at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan, will be the fourth time that the country will host them. The last time the Philippines hosted the Games was in 2005.
Go also said this is the perfect time to showcase how Filipinos can unite as one for their love for sports and to show the famous Filipino brand of hospitality to the rest of the world.
“Let’s work as one in order for us to win as one,” Go said.
Meanwhile, President Duterte said he was opposed to the proposal to cancel school classes in Metro Manila during the SEA Games, saying the period of the games was too long.
“That’s too long. Kung ako ang estudyante niyan, palakpak lang ako ng palakpak. Gusto n’ya Olympic na lang araw-araw (If I were a student, I would applaud that idea. They would want the Olympics to be held every day). I do not agree. That’s too long, that’s too long. That is simply too long,” he said.
With a reports from CATHERINE s. VALENTE and DIVINA NOVA JOY DELA CRUZ