Vietnam mulls postponing SEAG opening due to recent rise in COVID-19 cases

By: Glendale G. Rosal - CDN Digital Correspondent | June 25,2021 - 05:24 PM

Jaja Santiago of the Philippines attacks the net defense of Malaysia in the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vietnam, which hosts the region’s premier athletic spectacle this November, is planning to move the games next year due to a recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the country /pooled photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines— Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam, the host country of the 31st Southeast Asian Games, is mulling to move the Games’ opening from November this year to July next year.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino announced to all the stakeholders of the Philippine delegation that the Vietnamese organizers have sought a 14-day window to decide whether to hold the biennial games this year or next year or to cancel it.

“They [Vietnamese] are hesitant to make a decision,” said Tolentino after the one-hour virtual meeting among members of the SEA Games Federation.

The 31st SEA Games is originally scheduled from November 21 to December 2 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Although Vietnam was lauded worldwide for its impressive response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been rising COVID-19 cases in the country as of late.

On Wednesday, Vietnam recorded 207 new cases, way below that of the Philippines’ 4,338 tally.

This prompted the SEA Games Federation to consider moving the athletic meet to July 2022 if the cases continue to rise.

Eight member countries have already persuaded Vietnam to push through with the games as scheduled. Myanmar sided with the host’s decision because of its political crisis with Laos abstaining.

However, Tolentino said that the POC will abide by whatever decision Vietnam will make.

“We will respect the decision of Vietnam because we cannot do anything if they say the games are postponed,” he said.

Vietnam is already prepared to host the biennial meet as it completed all the infrastructure ahead of schedule, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are very reluctant with the November opening.

In contrast, the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics, are pushing through with the games starting July 23.

The Philippines intends to send more than 600 athletes to Vietnam. They will be competing in 39 of the 40 sports calendared by the organizers.

Meanwhile, athletes and coaches bound for the Tokyo Olympics and the SEA Games, have already received their second dose of the Sinovac vaccine at the Manila Prince Hotel along San Marcelino Street in Manila. /WITH PR

/rcg

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TAGS: 2019 SEA Games, Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, COVID-19, Hanoi, Philippine Olympic Committee, POC, regional sports meet, Vietnam

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