8 countries thumb down Vietnam plans to postpone SEA Games
The Philippines and seven other countries on Wednesday pushed for the staging of the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) as scheduled amid the mounting COVID-19 concerns of host Vietnam.
Rep. Bambol Tolentino, president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), said eight of the 11 member-nations of the SEA Games Federation voted for the biennial meet to push through on Nov. 21-Dec. 2 in the capital city of Hanoi.
Vietnam’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) sought a postponement of the Games to next year, expressing alarm over a rising COVID-19 caseload—prompting the meeting among federation members.
Virus cases have more than tripled in Vietnam since April to over 9,000. Although the number is low in comparison to most of its Southeast Asian neighbors, Vietnam’s vaccination rate per capita is the lowest in the region and among the lowest in Asia, according to a tally by Agence France-Presse.
SEA Games events are due to take place in some of the worst affected provinces including Bac Ninh and Bac Giang, in the country’s northeast.
One badminton venue in Bac Giang has been turned into a field hospital.
Aside from the POC, the NOCs of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Timor Leste voted not to postpone.
But Tolentino said it is ultimately up to Vietnam government to decide with finality. Last Sunday, Vietnam.net reported that its government asked the NOC for recommendations with the pandemic fully factored in.PH bets deep in training
Another SEA Games Federation meeting will be held on June 24, according to Tolentino.
A Singapore official had earlier suggested other SEA nations help with the hosting. But several officials opposed it saying it would ruin the essence of the regional games, whose stagings rotate among its members.
There are also suggestions to hold it by next March, the same route taken by organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which is pushing through on late July.
The Philippines, the 2019 overall champion, has been in full swing with its bubble training for athletes joining the SEA Games. Last month, it vaccinated athletes and coaches bound for the Games.
The country had canceled the 2019 SEA Paralympics last year after the pandemic broke out.
The regional meet had been canceled only once in its history, in 1963 when Cambodia failed to carry out the hosting due to political turmoil.
Following the 2015 Games in Singapore, the original 2019 host, Brunei, decided to beg off, prompting the Philippines to take over. But such change of hosting didn’t have complications because it was held years in advance.
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