SEA Games: Vietnam likely to postpone event to 2022, says state media

Singapore’s Ng Ming Wei (right) in action during the Philippines SEA Games on Dec 9, 2019.
Singapore’s Ng Ming Wei (right) in action during the Philippines SEA Games on Dec 9, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE

HANOI (AFP) - Vietnam plans to postpone this year's SEA Games, state media said on Wednesday (June 9), as the country grapples with a new virus outbreak.

The regional biennial multi-sport event is due to be held in Hanoi and 11 other locations - some of them at the epicentre of the fresh Covid-19 wave - from Nov 21 to Dec 2.

But Vietnam reportedly wants to move the 31st SEA Games to next year.

The Vietnam Olympics Committee has sent a letter to countries informing them of its proposal to defer the event to July 2022, according to Phap Luat Online.

The SEA Games Council, based in Bangkok, will meet on Wednesday to make a decision, it added.

Virus cases have more than trebled in Vietnam since April to more than 9,000. Although the number is low in comparison to most of its South-east Asian neighbours, the nation's vaccination rate per capita is the lowest in the region and among the lowest in Asia, according to an AFP tally.

SEA Games events are due to take place in some of the worst affected provinces including Bac Ninh and Bac Giang, in the country's north-east.

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

Vietnam, which previously played host in 2003, has allocated a budget of around US$69 million (S$91 million) for the Games.

The event is expected to attract nearly 20,000 participants, including about 7,000 athletes, from 11 countries, according to state media.

As well as Olympic disciplines, sports are likely to include billiards and snooker, bodybuilding, chess, bowling and kurash, an ancient form of Uzbek wrestling.