The Philippines and seven other countries pushed Wednesday for the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) to be held as scheduled amid growing COVID-19 concerns from host Vietnam.
Representative Bambol Tolentino, president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), said that eight of the 11 member nations of the SEA Games Federation voted in favor of the biennial meeting being held from November 21 to December 21. 2 in the capital city of Hanoi.
Vietnam’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) sought a postponement of the Games to next year, expressing alarm at the increase in COVID-19 cases, prompting the meeting between the federation members.
Virus cases have more than tripled in Vietnam since April to more than 9,000. Although the number is low compared to most of its Southeast Asian neighbors, Vietnam’s per capita vaccination rate is the lowest in the region and one of the lowest in Asia, according to a count by Agence France-Presse.
SEA Games events will take place in some of the worst affected provinces, including Bac Ninh and Bac Giang, in the northeast of the country.
A badminton stadium in Bac Giang has been converted into a field hospital.
Aside from the POC, the NOCs of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Timor Leste voted not to postpone it.
But Tolentino said that ultimately it is up to the Vietnamese government to decide firmly. Last Sunday, Vietnam.net reported that its government requested recommendations from the NOC, taking into account the pandemic in its entirety. The PH is deeply committed to training.
Another meeting of the SEA Games Federation will take place on June 24, according to Tolentino.
A Singaporean official had previously suggested that other SEA nations help with hosting. But several officials opposed it, saying it would ruin the essence of regional games, whose staging rotates among its members.
There are also suggestions to celebrate next March, the same route that the organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics took, moving forward in late July.
The Philippines, the 2019 overall champion, has been in full swing with their bubble training for athletes joining the SEA Games. Last month, it vaccinated athletes and coaches heading to games.
The country canceled the SEA 2019 Paralympic Games last year after the pandemic broke out.
The regional meeting had been canceled only once in its history, in 1963 when Cambodia was unable to host due to the political tower.
After the 2015 Games in Singapore, the original 2019 host Brunei decided to retire, prompting the Philippines to take over. But such a change of hosting had no complications because it was made years in advance. INQ
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