MANILA, Philippines – After a nearly yearlong delay, the pandemic-challenged 31st Southeast Asian Games wrapped up at the Hanoi Indoor Games Gymnasium in Vietnam on Monday, May 23, following more than two weeks of elite regional sporting competitions.
Unlike the kickoff celebration, the closing ceremony was held with no athletes in attendance, and was limited to just fans, performers, and country delegates as host country Vietnam turned over hosting duties to Cambodia.
Due to the pandemic delay in 2021, the Cambodians will have to make do with a historically short one-year layoff, as the 32nd SEA Games will already kick off on May 5, 2023, barring any new developments. This will be Cambodia’s first hosting opportunity in 60 years since it canceled the 1963 Games due to local political unrest.
Meanwhile, Vietnam can now relax as it wrapped up its 31st SEA Games hosting duty in historic fashion – nailing a record-breaking gold medal haul of 205, along with 125 silvers and 116 bronzes, that surpassed Indonesia’s 197 golden harvest in 1997.
Second-placer Thailand finished with a 92-103-136 gold-silver-bronze tally, while Indonesia hauled in 69-91-81. The Philippines, which was fifth during the Hanoi Games’ penultimate day, made a late dash to fourth to settle with a 52-gold, 70-silver, 104-bronze tally. Singapore trailed behind at fifth with a 47-46-71 split.
A total of 5,467 athletes competed in 526 events in 40 sports.
Here are some of the highlights of the closing ceremony:
All photos by Chalinee Thirasupa/Reuters