The government of Vietnam will decide on the fate of the 31st Southeast Asian Games. Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino said this after attending an online meeting of the SEA Games Federation Council on Wednesday.
Seven countries, including the Philippines, have appealed to the Vietnam SEA Games Organizing Committee not to postpone the biennial meet, which is set to be held from November 21 to December 2 this year.
Tolentino said Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Singapore, Timor-Leste, and Thailand have joined the Philippines in opposing plans to delay the holding of the games.
The Vietnamese planned to postpone this year’s SEA Games for next year, sending a proposal and survey to member countries as the country continued to struggle with a new coronavirus outbreak.
“We discussed on plans on not to postpone (the SEA Games). But no decision yet. It is still up to the government of Vietnam to decide .... It is up to the government of Vietnam to decide by next week,” said Tolentino, who is also a congressman representing the eighth district of Cavite.
The regional meet is supposed be held in Hanoi and 11 other locations in six months’ time. But the Vietnam locations are at the epicenter of the fresh Covid-19 wave.
The games’ events are set to take place in some of the worst affected provinces, including Bac Ninh and Bac Giang, located in the country’s northeast.
For one, the badminton venue in Bac Giang has been turned into a field hospital.
Virus cases have more than tripled in Vietnam since April to over 9,000.
But the number is low, compared to the cases in most of its Southeast Asian neighbors.
A budget of $69 million has been earmarked by the Vietnamese government for the games.
The games are expected to attract nearly 20,000 participants, including about 7,000 athletes, from 11 countries.
Authorities in Vietnam, which previously hosted the biennial meet back in 2003, has earlier implemented a “no vaccine, no participation” policy for the 2021 Games.
As Tolentino and members of the general assembly now wait for the decision of the Vietnamese government, the POC chief said Filipino sports officials will still meet on the status of vaccination of national athletes and officials headed to the games and the plans to resume training for national athletes this July.