DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 14 January) – It’s high time for Davao City to host the Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Friendship Games in 2020, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) commissioner Charles Raymond Maxey said.
Maxey on Monday said Davao has never hosted the Games since its maiden edition in 1996 or two years after the economic sub-region was established in the city.
BIMP-EAGA includes Brunei Darussalam; provinces of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, West Papua and Papua in Indonesia; states of Sabah and Sarawak and the federal territory of Labuan in Malaysia; and Mindanao and the province of Palawan in the Philippines.
But the PSC official said General Santos City was the only city in Mindanao that hosted the sports event – the maiden game in 1996 and again in 2012, some 16 years later. Puerto Princesa City in Palawan hosted it in 2003.
Davao was supposed to host the sports event in 2010 but it did not push through.
Maxey said he has no idea what happened then.
He said the PSC had already presented Davao as venue for the Games in 2020 through an audiovisual presentation played during its Brunei edition in 2018, although they have yet to submit a formal offer to the city government.
City Mayor Sara Duterte said she is already considering to host international sports events with the sports complex at the University of the Philippines Mindanao campus slated for opening during the Davao Regional Athletic Association (DAVRAA) Meet 2019 from January 27 to February 2, 2019.
But Duterte, who is running for another three-year term in May this year, said they would like to rest after hosting DAVRAA and the Palarong Pambansa in April and use the second half of 2019 to map out plans for 2020 to 2022.
“That is in or minds, of course, yes, but as to a very specific event, wala pa (none so far),” she said.
The sports complex has a training gym, multipurpose building, football field, track oval equipped with FIFA-tested and certified artificial turf, and Aquatics Center.
Maxey said he believes the city will be ready by 2020 since it has sufficient accommodations and facilities such as the 20-hectare world-class Davao City-UP Mindanao Sports Complex in Tugbok district.
If push comes to shove, Maxey said the around 1,500 participants and delegation officials will converge in Davao for the BIMP-EAGA Friendship Games in 2020, a development that will strengthen the city’s bid to become a premier sports tourism destination.
City Tourism Office head Generose Tecson said the idea of hosting various major sports events like the BIMP-EAGA Friendship Games is no longer farfetched with the opening of the P8-billion sports complex.
“The sports complex is a happy addition to our inventory of infrastructures especially since we are positioning the city as a sports tourism destination in the south,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)