The staging of the 31st Southeast Asian Games has remained in limbo.
The biennial games’ status is still unclear after Vietnam informed member countries that organizers will need two more weeks to decide, asking officials of the SEA Games Federation Council, who attended a virtual meeting on Thursday, to convene again on July 8.
By then, a final verdict on the fate of the biennial meet will be handed down.
“They need 14 days more to decide. Hindi sila maka-decide,” said Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino, who attended the online meeting.
Organizers have informed member nations that the health and safety of athletes, members of delegations and spectators, is the top priority of organizers.
And with a raging COVID-19 pandemic going on in Vietnam, the organizing committee has been discussing and adjusting their plans in coordination with the government.
According to reports, Vietnam experienced a fourth COVID-19 wave three weeks ago as work with venues, which have been preparing to hold different events, has been halted.
Tran Duc Phan, Deputy General Director of the Vietnam Sports Administration, told organizers that travelling among participating countries could become complicated due to the numerous control measures that they may have to impose.
The venues for the games will be held in 12 cities and provinces, but there are no athletes’ villages to host members of delegations from participating countries, with participants expected to stay in 40 different hotels.
SEA Games organizers are working to stage events in the cities of Hanoi and Haiphong, together with the provinces of Ha Nam, Bac Ninh, Bac Giang, Nam Dinh, Pho Tho, Quang Ninh, Hai Duong, Vĩnh Phúc, Ninh Bình and Hoa Binh.
The Vietnam Olympic Committee has proposed to move the games to July 2022. If this is not possible, Vietnam has also floated the idea of moving the games to 2025 or 2027, with the agreements to be made with Thailand and Brunei, the respective host of the games of the coming said years.
Tolentino, however, said that a decision to hold the games next year will bring many problems to member countries.
Next year’s sporting calendar will have the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February and the Asian Games in Hangzhou. And there’s also the Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games, the Islamic Games, and the Commonwealth Games.
Eight countries, namely Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Singapore, Timor-Leste, Thailand, and the Philippines have opposed the postponement of the games.