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SEA Games in Vietnam postponed amid rising COVID-19 cases

SEA Games in Vietnam postponed amid rising COVID-19 cases

Athletes carrying flags of ASEAN countries march during the closing ceremony of the SEA Games at the athletics stadium in Clark, Capas, Tarlac province, north of Manila on Dec 11, 2019. (File photo: AFP/Ted Aljibe)

SINGAPORE: This year's Southeast Asian Games due to take place in Vietnam has been postponed to 2022. 

"The SEA Games Federation working committee met today and it was decided that the SEA Games will not be held this year," said the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) on Thursday (Jul 8). 

READ: Vietnam's proposal to postpone SEA Games opposed by most member states: Malaysian Olympic council

The biennial event was due to take place in Hanoi and 11 other locations from Nov 21 to Dec 2.

Vietnam's national Olympic committee will explore new dates for consideration, added SNOC. 

"The SNOC will adjust the selection policy accordingly to reflect the new dates once the details are confirmed," it said, referring to the selection of Singapore athletes for the Games. 

READ: Vietnam orders COVID-19 lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City

Deputy secretary of the Thai Olympic Committee Varin Tansuphasiri said the SEA Games will "definitely" not (be hosted) this year as scheduled in November. 

"Vietnam wants to postpone the Games until next year, 2022," said Tansuphasiri, who is also a Games Council member. 

The postponement was due to the pandemic, he said, with Vietnam proposing to host the Games in April or May next year.

The Olympic Council of Malaysia also released a statement confirming the postponement. It said that the SEA Games Federation met on Thursday and agreed to move the Games to 2022. 

It added that members "praised the work done thus far by (Vietnam) but took note of the current (COVID-19) conditions" there.

SPORTING CALENDAR PILE-UP

It was reported last month that eight out of 11 member states of the SEA Games Federation had objected to Vietnam's proposal to postpone the competition over concerns about next year's "busy sports schedule".

Vietnam's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang told reporters on Thursday that authorities had recommended to "postpone the hosting of 31st SEA Games to a more appropriate time".

But Tansuphasiri said it was not straightforward to find a suitable time in next year's sporting calendar.

"There's already too many games next year," he said, citing the Beijing Winter Olympics in February 2022 and the Commonwealth Games in July next year.

"There will be a bit (of) trouble for Vietnam to host in 2022."

COVID-19 LOCKDOWN IN VIETNAM

On Wednesday, Vietnam announced that nine million people in Ho Chi Minh City would go into lockdown for two weeks in the early hours of Friday.

Hanoi, which was to be at the centre of the SEA Games, has had fewer cases but on Thursday suspended transport links with at least 14 cities and provinces to fight the virus' spread.

Virus clusters have appeared up and down the country, including in the northern industrial provinces of Bac Ninh and Bac Giang, where Games events were due to take place.

The country has recorded nearly 23,500 infections and 105 deaths.

Prior to this outbreak, which began in late April, fewer than 3,000 cases had been recorded in Vietnam.

One badminton venue in Bac Giang has been turned into a field hospital.

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Source: CNA/afp/ad(ac)

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