Present day Filipinos will have the chance to witness the spectacle and glitter of the Asian Games which their forefathers experienced more than half-a-century ago when the country hosted the quadrennial conclave for the first and only time 60 years ago.
This if if the Philippine Olympic Committee, headed by its president Jose “Peping” succeeds in bringing back this shore the biggest, in terms of participation, and the second oldest, outside of the Olympic Games gathering of the world’s finest athletes.
Cojuangco, a former Congressman from Tarlac, flew to Nanjing in China two weeks ago along with Philippine Sports Commission chair Ritchie Gaarcia and POC chair Tom Carrasco, primarily to oversee the Filipino athletes’ participation in the coming Youth Olympic Games, but, most importantly, to inform the Olympic Council of Asia of his intention to host the Games five years from now.
Cojuangco had earlier announced his intention to bring back the quadrennial meet here in the sports program “Tropang BisTag” aired over DZEC adding he will join the small seven-athlete national delegation to Nanjing precisely to test the waters with OCA members in regards to his plan to bid for the hosting of the 2019 edition of the Games in lieu of Vietnam.
Vietnam actually won the right to stage the Games but begged off leaving the hosting open to other OCA member countries.
Cojuangco said what prompted the POC to offer the country’s bid is the completion of an international-standard venue, the huge Philippine Arena in Bulacan, which was inaugurated recently.
One of the reasons why the Philippines could not even offer to host the Games in the past since that since 1954 when it staged the historic second edition was the lack of facilities and with the construction of the cavernous, Iglesia Ni Cristo-owned arena, Cojuangco thought one such problem has been solved.
Cojuangco, who is in his 10th year at the helm of the country’s highest governing body for amateur sports, revealed that he will be submitting the POC bid for the country to host the 18th edition of the conclave presumably after he shall have conferred with OCA members who will be attending the Nanjing Games.
“I will have to first clear our planned bid with the OCA president (Ahmad Fahad Al Sabah) if bidding is still open,” Cojuangco said. “If the 2018 hosting has not yet been awarded to any country, then the Philippines will try to saving the Games.”
“Actually I had already hinted to the Sheik our intention to stage the Games here during last year’s aborted Asian Games Centennial Celebration, although I only mentioned that in passing. The Sheik said there’s no problem as far he is concerned,” the POC top honcho said. “He even told me to test the water with OCA members as soon as opportunity arises.”
“At first I was reluctant as I asked myself, should we win, where will the Games be held? he bared. “But after the Philippine Arena had been inaugurated only last week, I told myself, this is it, one of our biggest problems had been solved.”I had been furnished with reading materials on the facilities of Philippine Area and I found out that all those already completed are of international standard.”
“All the events under the Asiad calendar can be disputed inside the huge complex, except those in water sports. Pero puede naman nating gawin ang water sports events sa Subic,” he explained.
Cojuangco said that although hosting the Asiad will be a gigantic task, especially in terms of logistics, it would, however, benefit the country in so many ways, “including that of promoting tourism and showcasing the Filipinos’ world-renowned hospitality, it’s worth trying.”
Some 1,800 athletes representing 18 countries converged in Manila during the Second edition of Asiad with the then newly-completed Rizal Memorial Stadium, Asia’s first complete sporting arena as main hub.
The Manila Asiad proved to be the Filipino athletes’ finest moment in the once every-four-year hostilities among the region’s finest athletes ass the hosts won 14 gold medals, as many silver medals and 17 bronze medals, the second best, nest only to overall champion Japan.