The 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam has been postponed to a later date due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) Pres. Bambol Tolentino made the revelation Thursday. The SEAG Federation earlier met virtually and unanimously decided to call off the meet supposed to take place from Nov. 21 to Dec. 3.
“The SEA Games Federation decided — unanimously decided; we’re united with the decision — not to hold the SEA Games this year due to COVID -19. ‘Yun po ‘yung naging desisyon,” he said in a virtual presser.
Vietnam actually postponed the Hanoi Games back in June due to the prevailing health crisis. COVID-19 cases in the country spiked, and its vaccination rate is among the lowest in the region, per reports.
That decision, though, faced resistance from eight of the 11 participating nations. This included the Philippines, who hosted the previous SEA Games.
But the federations understood the severity of the pandemic situation, since most parts of the region have been badly affected as well. Thus, the resolution not to have the multi-sporting event this year.
“Medyo tumaas po talaga (COVID-19 cases). Nag-spike ang Thailand, Indonesia, even Philippines. And of course, Vietnam. So with that, we decided that the 31st SEA Games will not be held this year,” Tolentino said.
Tolentino said that the collective decision was also their way to help Vietnam, since it was having difficulty deciding about the Games’ status.
“Kasi nga hindi rin maka-decided si Vietnam so tinulungan naman. Ganito na lang desisyon natin, kasi hindi maka-decide, late na. So [it was] the best decision, talagang lahat naman tayo apektado ng surge ng COVID.”
Regarding the new date of the 31st SEA Games, Tolentino said that they have given Vietnam 10 days to decide.
“For the date, ‘yun ang wala pa po. ‘Yun ang pag-uusapan pa ng NOC (national Olympic committee) ng Vietnam and their government kung kailan — next year, or next next year (2023).
“Actually we gave them 10 days to give the date. Kasi may procedure pa ‘yun e. Dadalhin pa ‘yun sa federation council to approve. Kailangan approved din ng SEA Games Council ‘yun,” Tolentino said.