SEA Games organisers say 'ready' for Typhoon Kammuri

Clark (Philippines) (AFP) –


Southeast Asian Games venues and officials in the Manila region are "ready", competition organisers said Monday, as powerful Typhoon Kammuri churned toward the Philippines.

There was no talk of cancelling the Games as the storm headed for a swathe of the nation's north that includes key competition hubs as well as thousands of athletes, and had already had an impact on the schedule.

Forecasters predict the typhoon will make landfall late Monday or early Tuesday hundreds of kilometres southeast of the capital, with intense rains and potent gusts of up to 230 kilometres (145 miles) per hour.

Manila's airport will be closed from 11 am (0300 GMT) to 11 pm on Tuesday, the air hub's authority said.

"Everything is set," Ramon Suzara, COO of organising committee PHISGOC, told journalists on Monday. "For contingency, all venues, all competition managers, technical delegates are ready."

Kammuri caused problems for the competition's plans before landfall. Windsurfing was halted as a precaution and triathlon events were held earlier than scheduled, an official said at the weekend.

Officials told reporters that each sport is overseen by managers and ultimately they would make the call on any possible cancellations or rescheduling.

"The proper timing of when to postpone them (events) is decided by the technical delegate or the one that is in charge of the sport," said Celso Dayrit, SEA Games Executive Committee Chairman.

As part of the contingency plan "in place a long time ago", Games organisers have told venues to dismantle temporary structures like tents for officials, security and catering or outdoor branding over fears they could be ripped away by the strong winds.

Organisers did not elaborate on the broader contingency plans or the decision making process, but cited the example of how an indoor event could be impacted.

"For example, basketball or volleyball, normally if there are typhoons, which has been done, the competition continues if necessary but without spectators," Suzara said.

As of Monday, windsurfing was halted as a precaution and triathlon and duathlon events were held earlier than scheduled.

Suzara ruled out any extension to the Games, which is due to end on December 11 after opening on Saturday.

Earlier this year at Japan's Rugby World Cup, three matches were cancelled as Typhoon Hagibis approached the country -- one of the biggest and most powerful storms Japan has seen in many years that would eventually kill more than 80 people.

The sheer size of the storm -- it covered the vast majority of the Japanese archipelago -- and the ferocity of the winds left the organisers with little choice but to cancel the games before landfall.

Around 8,750 athletes and team officials are expected at this year's 30th edition of the SEA Games along with another 12,000 volunteers.

The Philippines made a strong start, rising to the top of the medal table with over 70 in total -- almost 40 of them gold -- ahead of Vietnam in second and Malaysia in third.

The host nation added to their haul of golds on Monday with Olympic weightlifting silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz winning the women's 55kg event, while both 3x3 basketball teams dominating their finals.

There was another hat-full of arnis golds for the Philippines team, who took their tally to 12, and there were wins in downhill mountain biking and duathlon.