Vietnam SEA Games slated for next May
2022 sporting calendar set to be packed, with Asian Games and Commonwealth Games also scheduled
The SEA Games Federation has accepted Vietnam's proposal for the 31st South-east Asia Games to be held in Hanoi in mid-May next year, with the exact dates to be finalised by the hosts.
A Singapore National Olympic Council spokesman confirmed the news after the federation convened yesterday, saying: "With the new dates in place, we will adjust the selection qualification window accordingly to reflect the revised timeline."
The biennial Games were originally scheduled for Nov 21 to Dec 2 but were postponed in July after Vietnam experienced a surge in Covid-19 cases.
The number of new daily cases in the country reached a peak of almost 15,000 last month before dipping to about 3,000 this month.
But Vietnam will be in a race against time to get ready for the 40-sport event that is expected to feature more than 10,000 athletes, coaches and other participants.
The new dates also mean a packed calendar for some Singaporean athletes. They will have to cope with trying to qualify for and compete in the SEA Games, the July 28 to Aug 8 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, and the Sept 10 to 25 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, in a span of five months.
South-east Asian nations are also awaiting news on the Games' Covid-19 protocols, with Vietnamese newspaper An Ninh Thu Do reporting that funding for the Games has not been allocated, which means that there are currently no resources to prepare for the event.
Vietnam, which last hosted the SEA Games in 2003, had reportedly set aside a budget of US$69 million (S$93.1m) to stage the coming Games.
Zing News journalist Tran Duc Truong told The Straits Times earlier he believed that if the Vietnamese government commits to hosting the SEA Games, "it will make it happen and do its best to make it successful", but added that the Covid-19 pandemic throws up many uncertainties.
He also said that the Vietnamese are currently more concerned about the economy and life returning to normality after just exiting a four-month lockdown.
"Hosting the SEA Games will be a blow for the economy as the money can be spent in more critical areas. Many companies went bankrupt and it would also be hard for the government to ask for sponsors," he said.
Meanwhile, The Philippine Star reported that Indonesia and Thailand will not be allowed to fly their flags at the SEA Games "for being non-compliant with the anti-doping rules by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada)".
Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino told the news outlet last Wednesday that the two countries have a pending appeal.
Indonesian Olympic Committee secretary-general Ferry J. Kono told The Straits Times that the country's anti-doping agency and Sports Ministry are working to resolve the situation and "hope Wada will issue a new verdict for Indonesia".
He added that if the appeal falls through, the Indonesian contingent will compete under its Olympic committee's flag like Russia did at the Tokyo Olympics owing to a drug-related ban.