Philippines in U-turn on hosting 2019 SEA Games

The Philippines said on Thursday that it would host the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games after all in a surprise u-turn after announcing last month it was pulling out.

In late July the Philippines said it would not host the 2019 SEA Games as it needed to focus on rebuilding Marawi, after the southern city has been ravaged by months of battles between Philippine security forces and Islamist militants.

However, officials said on Thursday that following a meeting of top level sports and government officials the Philippines had decided to go ahead after all and would notify the SEA Games Federation of its decision on Friday after President Rodrigo Duterte decided to back the hosting.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano made the announcement at a press conference.

Cayetano was also named new chairman of the organising committee for the 2019 SEA Games.

The Philippines last hosted the biennial games in 2005.

The 2017 edition of the SEA Games are already underway in Malaysia, with the official opening ceremony set to take place in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.