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Rising infections in Vietnam could end in SEA Games scrapping

/ 05:15 AM January 14, 2022

Vietnam receives the SEA Games federation flag during turnover ceremonies of then 2019 Southeast Asian Games. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Is the 2021 Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in danger of getting scrapped altogether?

That’s the question ringing the loudest a week before the SEA Games Federation gathers in a meeting to discuss the fate of the Games’ much-delayed 31st edition, which had already been reset from late last year to May 12 to 23 in Hanoi, Vietnam.

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A source told the Inquirer on Thursday that the SEA Games “is in danger of getting canceled for good,” following Vietnam’s decision to call off the International Badminton Challenge set March 22 to 27 because of rising coronavirus cases in the country.

The badminton competition had been postponed three times already, even as The Star Malaysia reported 16,513 new cases and 240 deaths in Vietnam last Saturday alone, with Hanoi having the most number of positive cases at 2,791.

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The development failed to alarm the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), which said a meeting among chef de missions (CDM) on Jan. 18 will be the decider.

“It’s not confirmed,” POC president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino told the Inquirer on Thursday.

“The confirmed thing is [that there will be] the CDM meeting on Jan. 18,” added Tolentino, adding that decisions made in that gathering is “more believable.”

The Vietnam government had earlier postponed the initial Games schedule of Nov. 21 to Dec. 2 because of the pandemic.

The SEA Games Federation, according to an Inquirer source, is set to convene on Jan. 19 to take up entry by numbers. So far it had only received that of Myanmar’s.

Reigning champions

Athletes and officials from the Philippines march during the opening ceremony of the SEA Games (Southeast Asian Games) at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan province, north of Manila on November 30, 2019. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)

Sources noted that by this time, just four months before the SEA Games, the organizers should have been finalizing entries by names already.

The same insiders added that moving the Games to an even later date is also out of the question because Phnom Penh, Cambodia, needs enough time to prepare as it will take its turn as host in May next year.

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The Philippines, the reigning SEA Games champions, also can’t make proper preparations for the Games because of the latest surge.

The national team was supposed to return to training at Rizal Memorial Sports Complex and PhilSports last Jan. 10, but the sudden rise in cases here has prevented that from happening.

In fact, Philippine Sports Commission Commissioner Ramon Fernandez released information that Ninoy Aquino Stadium, the Rizal Memorial Coliseum and the PhilSports Arena are now fully occupied as quarantine facilities when less than two weeks ago they were almost empty.

The country is hoping to send 626 athletes to Hanoi and 11 other cities which will host 30 sports competitions in the Games.

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TAGS: 2019 Southeast Asian Games, ceremonies, flag, overall champion
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