Vietnam postpones SEA Games until next year (state media)

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Dancers in traditional dress perform during the opening ceremony of the 30th Southeast Asian Games at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan Province, northern Philippines, Saturday, November 30, 2019.
Image Credit: AP

Hanoi: Vietnam plans to postpone this year’s Southeast Asian Games, state media said on Wednesday, as the country grapples with a new outbreak of the virus.

The Regional Olympics are scheduled to be held in Hanoi and 11 other venues – some of them at the epicenter of the new wave of Covid-19 – from November 21 to December 2.

But Vietnam would like to move the 31st SEA Games to next year.

An online meeting between the Olympic committees of the nations scheduled to participate in the games took place on Wednesday, according to the Vietnamese news agency.

“Due to the complicated pandemic situation in Vietnam and the region, the VOC (Vietnamese Olympic Committee) has suggested postponing the SEA Games from July 31 to July 2022,” the agency added.

The committees would vote again in two weeks, before a final decision is taken.

Cases of the virus have more than tripled in Vietnam since April to more than 9,000. Although this 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 an AFP tally.

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.

Vietnam had already hosted the multisport competition in 2003. It allocated a budget of around $ 69 million for the Games.

The SEA Games are expected to attract nearly 20,000 participants, including around 7,000 athletes, from 11 countries, according to official media.

In addition to the Olympic disciplines, sports are likely to include billiards and snooker, bodybuilding, chess, bowling, and kurash, an ancient form of Uzbek wrestling.

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