HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam plans to postpone this year’s SEA Games, the state media said on Wednesday (June 9), as the country grapples with a new virus outbreak.
The regional biennial multi-sport event are 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, the host for SEA Games 31, has sent a letter to countries informing them of its proposal to postpone SEA Games 31 to July 2022 due to the complicated situation of the Covid-19 pandemic,” according to Phap Luat Online.
The SEA Games Council, based in Bangkok, will meet on Wednesday to make a decision, it added.
The Vietnam Olympic Committee confirmed to AFP that a meeting would take place on Wednesday.
Virus cases have more than trebled in Vietnam since April to over 9,000. Although the number is low in comparison to most of its South-east Asian neighbours, Vietnam’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 field hospital.
Vietnam previously hosted the competition in 2003. It has allocated a budget of around US$69 million (S$91.3 million) for the Games.
The SEA Games are 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.