Eight countries reject Vietnam’s intention to postpone SEAG

Vietnamese artists take part in the closing ceremony of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. —AFP FILE PHOTO

The Philippines and seven other countries lobbied on Wednesday to host the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) as planned amid growing COVID-19 concerns from host Vietnam.

Representative Bambol Tolentino, president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), said eight of the 11 member countries of the SEA Games Federation voted for the biennial meeting to take place from November 21 to December 21. 2 in the capital Hanoi.

The Vietnamese National Olympic Committee (NOC) has called for the Games to be postponed until next year, expressing concern over the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, prompting the meeting between members of the federation.

Cases of the virus have more than tripled in Vietnam since April to more than 9,000. Although that number is low compared to most of its neighbors in Southeast Asia, the vaccination rate per capita in Vietnam is the lowest in the region and among the lowest in Asia, according to a count by Agence France-Presse.

SEA Games events are expected to take place in some of the worst affected provinces, including Bac Ninh and Bac Giang in the northeast of the country.

A badminton site in Bac Giang has been transformed into a field hospital.

Besides the CEP, the NOCs of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Timor Leste voted not to postpone.

But Tolentino said it was ultimately up to the Vietnamese government to make the final decision. Last Sunday, Vietnam.net reported that its government had asked the NOC for recommendations with the pandemic fully taken into account. PH bets deep in training

Another meeting of the SEA Games Federation will take place on June 24, according to Tolentino.

An official from Singapore had previously suggested that other SEA countries help with accommodation. But several officials opposed it, saying it would ruin the essence of the regional games, whose staging rotates between its members.

There are also suggestions to hold it by next March, the same route taken by the organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which continues at the end of July.

The Philippines, 2019 overall champions, are in full swing with their bubble training for athletes joining the SEA Games. Last month it vaccinated athletes and coaches destined for the Games.

The country had canceled the 2019 SEA Paralympic Games last year after the outbreak of the pandemic.

The regional meeting has only been canceled once in its history, in 1963 when Cambodia failed to host it due to political unrest.

After the 2015 Games in Singapore, the original host of 2019, Brunei, decided to beg, prompting the Philippines to take over. But such a change of accommodation did not have any complications as it took place years in advance. INQ

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