Regional sports competition faces numerous challenges . . .
The 30th Southeast Asia Games (SEA Games), the region’s largest multi-sport competition and supervised by the Olympic Council of Asia and the International Olympic Committee, opened on Saturday in the Philippines city of Ciudad de Victoria. The run up to the games was plagued by scandals, including the heavily criticized expenditure of C$1.3-million by President Duterte’s administration on a cauldron for the torch lighting ceremony. Athletes arriving from across the region have experienced delayed airport pick-ups and hotel reservation issues, with many forced to sleep in hotel lobbies. Many facilities were incomplete when the Games began, resulting in events without scoreboards and spectators forced to use portable toilets.
Typhoon Kammuri makes landfall . . .
If scandals and infrastructure issues were not enough, the powerful Typhoon Kammuri began pounding the Philippines today. Matches have been cancelled, the Manila airport has suspended operations, and approximately 200,000 people have been evacuated. With storms predicted through the end of the week, it’s unlikely the SEA Games will resume before the weekend.
Smoke engulfs the region . . .
The SEA Games has put the region’s natural and human-exacerbated disasters in the spotlight. Across the larger region, heavy rains along Malaysia’s eastern coast have forced nearly 3,000 evacuees to seek shelter in flood relief centres, and a delayed monsoon season in Indonesia has left the tourist hotspot of Bali without potable water. Meanwhile, the smog in traffic-jammed Jakarta, which hosted last year’s SEA Games, is being compounded by the country’s massive wildfires. It is estimated that 1.6 million hectares of land has burned year-to-date, spreading a smokey haze across Southeast Asia. As the UN’s Climate Change Conference kicks off today in Madrid, delegates may want to consider how to better assist low- and middle-income nations like those in Southeast Asia in balancing the impacts of climate change and natural disasters with sporting glory.
- Al Jazeera: Bali: The Tropical Indonesian island that is running out of water
- Nikkei Asian Review: Traffic-choked Jakarta opens first light railway line
- Straits Times: Evacuations begin in Philippines as typhoon threatens ongoing SEA Games