‘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.”

 

 


Riyadh to host inaugural Saudi international cycling race

Updated 22 January 2020

Riyadh to host inaugural Saudi international cycling race

  • This new race represents an exciting organizational challenge, a coherent sporting event for an entire category of riders

JEDDAH: Sports chiefs are gearing up to announce the Saudi city venue for a new international cycling race set to take place in the Kingdom.

Chairman of the Saudi General Sports Authority Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal is expected to reveal on Thursday that Riyadh will host the five-stage Saudi Tour 2020 from Feb. 4 to 8.

The inaugural edition of the 2.1 category race is being staged by Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), the organizer of the world-famous Tour de France.

Details of the route in and around the Saudi capital were due to be released during a press conference at Riyadh’s Digital City.

The cycling event precedes the Tour of Oman (Feb. 11 to 16) which is facing cancelation following the death of Sultan Qaboos.

ASO chief executive, Yann Le Moenner, said: “We are involved in the emergence of a new racing scene in the Middle East, which corresponds to the riders’ demand at the beginning of the year.

“The creation of the Saudi Tour and its sustainable installation in the calendar is part of this movement. This new race represents an exciting organizational challenge, a coherent sporting event for an entire category of riders, and a nice opportunity for the television viewers who follow the race to discover new landscapes.

“This is also, for us, an occasion to contribute to the development of cycling across the Kingdom,” he added.

Saudi Cycling Federation chief Sabah Al-Kraidees said it was an “honor” to have the inaugural Saudi Tour, noting that the event would help to promote the Kingdom as a tourist destination.

“The Saudi Tour is a great opportunity to publicize the country’s varied territories and historic sites and to let visitors discover our sense of hospitality. This initiative fits perfectly with the ambition of Saudi Arabia to promote the Kingdom beyond its borders through sports and especially cycling,” he added.

The five-day event will feature stages in the hills around Riyadh and on urban circuits.

The Kingdom recently began issuing tourist visas after travel to the country was largely limited to pilgrims, business travelers and resident workers.