Vietnam is set to make a decision on the fate of the 2021 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the country.
“The final decision will be known next week,” said Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino on Wednesday, June 9. “But it’s still the government of Vietnam that has the final decision.”
Vietnam surpassed 6,000 cases on Tuesday, June 8, sending alarm bells ringing if the Games should push through on November 21 to December 2 in Hanoi.
However, the hosts have to consider the preparations for the regional meet.
“The hosts are also reluctant to postpone the Games because all their structures and venues are already complete. But the pandemic has raised the alarm,” added Tolentino.
“It’s unfair to the athletes who have already sacrificed their time and effort in training for the SEA Games.”
The SEA Games would have to squeeze into the packed 2022 sports schedule, which includes the Winter Olympics in Beijing from February 4 to 20, Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games from March 10 to 20 in Bangkok and Chonburi in Thailand, and Asian Games from September 10 to 25 in Hangzhou, China.
“Athletes are also preparing for the Asian Games, Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, and Winter Olympics next year. So it’s very difficult for the SEA Games to be postponed,” said Tolentino.
A total of 626 Filipino athletes are set to compete across 39 events in the biennial event.
The Philippine delegation composed of athletes, coaches, officials, and the media have received their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine as Vietnam is enforcing a “no vaccine, no participation” rule.
The country is aiming to defend the overall championship title, which it clinched after 14 years during its hosting of the 2019 SEA Games. – Rappler.com