MANILA--The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Thursday announced that the 30 contenders for the 41st World Strongest Man (WSM) crown have arrived in Manila this week.

The DOT, which facilitated the country’s hosting of WSM, said the popular sports television series will be shown in over 70 countries and will feature select destinations such as Rizal Park, Intramuros, Bonifacio Global City, Corregidor Island, Tagaytay City, Bataan, Davao City, and Coron Island, Palawan.

“This year’s edition of the World’s Strongest Man will not only be a ‘Thrilla in Manila’ as it will showcase some of our top tourist destinations and promote the country as a worthwhile venue for international sports events,” said DOT Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo.

Englishman Eddie Hall, also known as “The Beast,” is returning to defend his crown as the “World’s Strongest Man” (WSM) against 29 other competitors, including former titleholders.

Hall triumphed in last year’s WSM competition held in the Republic of Botswana in South Africa.

The 30-year old Hall posted a world record deadlift on a 1,020-pound long bar.

Among the athletes who arrived on Tuesday were United States' Bryan Benzel and Iceland’s Hafþór Júlíus "Thor" Björnsson, who played Ser Gregor Clegane (The Mountain) in the Game of Thrones.

Meanwhile, those who arrived on Wednesday were Adam Derks, Martins Licis, Robert Oberst from US; Zydrunas Savickas, Vytautas Lalas and Marius Lalas from Lithuania; Sweden's Martin Forsmark, Georgia's Konstantine Janashia, Germany's Dennis Kohlruss, Poland's Krysztof Radzikowski, and Rongoihaere "Rongo" Keene from Australia.

Finally, reaching Manila on Thursday were defending champion Eddie Hall, Slovenia's Matjaz Belsak, Burkina Faso's Iron Biby, Canada's JF Caron, South Africa's Johan Els, Sweden's Johnny Hansson, Poland's Mateusz Kieliszkowski, Iran's Peiman Maheripourehir, Russia's Mikhail Shivlyakov, and Latvia's Aivars Smaukstelis.

Also included were Nick Best Rob Kearney, and Brian Shaw of USA; Adam Bishop, Mark Felix, Graham Hicks, Terry Hollands, Laurence Shahlaei and Luke Stoltman of Great Britain.

The WSM events will take place for nine days in various locations in and outside Metro Manila starting April 28, including four qualifying days from April 28 to May 1, three rest days, and two days for the finals from May 5 to 6.

Among these locations are Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park; Intramuros, Manila; Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City; and University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.

The shoots, on the other hand, will feature tourist sites in Tagaytay City, Bataan, Corregidor Island, Davao City, and Coron Island, Palawan.

The WSM, started in 1977 by CBS Television, is a top-rated series in the UK shown annually in December, during summer in the US, and televised in over 70 countries.

Previous WSM competitions were held in Hollywood, California; West Virginia, Morocco, China, and Botswana, South Africa.

DOT Undersecretary Kat De Castro said the competition events include truck or airplane pulling, carrying a refrigerator, lifting an Atlas stone weighing over 1,000 pounds, and lifting huge logs.

“The competition is about stamina, skill, tactics, training and strategy. Every event is designed to push the strongmen to their absolute limits, challenging not only their physical strength, but their agility and mental toughness, too,” said De Castro. (PR)