Typhoon forces sus­pen­sion of SEA Games events

Or­gan­is­ers gear­ing up for storm’s ar­rival in Philip­pines, with con­tin­gency plans in place

The Straits Times - - FRONT PAGE - Ni­cole Chia In Manila cni­[email protected]

The im­pend­ing ar­rival of Typhoon Kam­muri led to the sus­pen­sion and post­pone­ment of SEA Games events like wind­surf­ing and ca­noe-kayak races yes­ter­day, with or­gan­is­ers not­ing con­tin­gency plans are in place for bad weather but also stress­ing the du­ra­tion of the Games would not be ex­tended.

The Games, held in the Philip­pines for the first time since 2005, are tak­ing place in three ma­jor clus­ters around Clark, Manila and Su­bic and sched­uled to end on Dec 11.

There are around 10,000 ath­letes and of­fi­cials from 11 South­east Asian na­tions, along with an­other 12,000 vol­un­teers.

Nearly 70,000 peo­ple have al­ready fled their homes in the Bi­col re­gion in the east of the coun­try.

Po­lice across the Lu­zon and Visayas prov­inces as well as na­tional sup­port units and all pro­vin­cial mo­bile forces have been placed on full alert by the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice.

Typhoon Kam­muri has al­ready caused chaos at the SEA Games even be­fore mak­ing land­fall in the Philip­pines. Sports like wind­surf­ing, beach vol­ley­ball and ca­noe-kayak rac­ing were yes­ter­day ei­ther sus­pended or post­poned, while the triathlon mixed team re­lay was held two days ear­lier even as or­gan­is­ers were gear­ing up for the storm’s ar­rival.

Kam­muri, known lo­cally as Ti­son, was ex­pected to make land­fall by early this morn­ing in the nation’s east with in­tense rain and po­tent wind gusts, the lo­cal weather bureau said. It also warned of rain-in­duced land­slides and pos­si­ble storm surges of up to 3m which could hit coastal ar­eas in the east.

Kam­muri should then pass close to Manila, home to some 13 mil­lion and one of three main clus­ters for the Games events. The other two are in nearby Clark and Su­bic Bay.

Nearly 70,000 peo­ple have al­ready fled their homes in the Bi­col re­gion in the east, where the typhoon was ex­pected to hit first. Po­lice across the Lu­zon and Visayas prov­inces as well as na­tional sup­port units and all pro­vin­cial mo­bile forces have been placed on full alert by the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice.

Or­gan­is­ers yes­ter­day em­pha­sised that par­tic­i­pants’ safety is a pri­or­ity but noted that each sport is over­seen by its own tech­ni­cal del­e­gates and that, ul­ti­mately, any pos­si­ble can­cel­la­tions or reschedul­ing would be their de­ci­sion.

Philip­pines SEA Games Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Ra­mon Suzara said con­tin­gency plans were in place for bad weather, such as erect­ing tents at out­door venues, but stressed that the du­ra­tion of the Games, which end on Dec 11, would not be ex­tended. In­door sports like bas­ket­ball and vol­ley­ball can con­tinue “if nec­es­sary but without spec­ta­tors”, he said.

The sail­ing and wind­surf­ing races, orig­i­nally sched­uled to start yes­ter­day, will be­gin on Thurs­day.

Sin­ga­pore wind­surf­ing (laser) coach James Gray down­played the de­lays and told The Straits Times: “Sailors are well prac­tised at hav­ing to deal with en­vi­ron­men­tal con­straints, whether wait­ing for wind to ar­rive or wait­ing for high winds to dis­si­pate. The team is still in a great po­si­tion to per­form well when the event gets un­der way.”

Na­tional triath­lete Bryce Chong took the changes in his stride. He and team­mates Her­lene Yu, Luke Chua and Emma Mid­dled­itch won sil­ver in the mixed team re­lay yes­ter­day. Chong said: “As an ath­lete, I al­ways need to be pre­pared for the worst-case sce­nar­ios. I just had to stay calm and make mi­nor changes to the train­ing prior to the race. But the race plan never changed.”

At 8pm last night, con­di­tions were calm in Manila and Clark with clear skies, though pre­cau­tions were be­ing taken – a gi­ant Christ­mas tree in Metro Manila was wrapped in red cloth in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the storm.

The Philip­pines is hit by an av­er­age of 20 storms and typhoons each year, killing hun­dreds. The coun­try’s dead­li­est cy­clone on record was Su­per Typhoon Haiyan, which left over 7,300 dead or miss­ing in 2013.

Kam­muri is the lat­est is­sue for this Games, which saw a se­ries of trans­port prob­lems and a rush in last-minute con­struc­tion ahead of last Satur­day’s open­ing cer­e­mony.

The Games – last hosted by the Philip­pines in 2005 – are com­plex, with a record 56 sports across dozens of venues that are, in some cases, hours apart by car.

Cebu Air and Philip­pine Air­lines have sus­pended some do­mes­tic flights, while Manila’s in­ter­na­tional air­port will be tem­po­rar­ily closed today. A Sin­ga­pore Na­tional Olympic Coun­cil spokesman said some ath­letes and of­fi­cials have had their travel itin­er­ar­ies changed and those sched­uled to leave Philip­pines today will re­main in their of­fi­cial ac­com­mo­da­tion un­til tomorrow.

Around 10,000 ath­letes and team of­fi­cials from 11 coun­tries are ex­pected, along with 12,000 vol­un­teers. Or­gan­is­ers have tar­geted tele­vi­sion view­er­ship of 500 mil­lion for the 12-day Games.

Speaker of Par­lia­ment and Sin­ga­pore Na­tional Olympic Coun­cil pres­i­dent Tan Chuan-Jin, who is in the Philip­pines, said in a Face­book post last night: “We are track­ing this (Kam­muri) closely to en­sure the safety of our ath­letes. Ev­ery­thing that needs to be done will be car­ried out... We are not in the main path of this storm. At most we should ex­pect some thun­der­storms and winds in our ar­eas.”

PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Tar­pau­lins tied down on bill­board frames in an­tic­i­pa­tion of Typhoon Kam­muri yes­ter­day in Manila, home to some 13 mil­lion and one of three main clus­ters for the SEA Games events. The typhoon was ex­pected to make land­fall late last night or early this morn­ing in the nation’s east.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.