If there are no more options left, it seems that majority of the Southeast Asian Games countries and host Vietnam are all agreeable to have the 31st SEA Games in 2022.
“If the SEA Games will be held in 2022, it should be not later than May,” said Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino.
This is to give at least one year of preparation for the athletes and governments—training and financial–to prepare for the next SEA Games slated for May 2023 in Cambodia.
Still, Tolentino said most members of SEAG countries still favor having the 31st SEA Games held as scheduled on Nov. 2-Dec 21, but the Vietnam Organizing Committee will still make the final decision.
“Marami namang options pero the more na matapos mas maaga, the better. Still, the Vietnam government will have the final decision, but it will not look good if the games will be scrapped altogether,” Tolentino said Friday during the second dose vaccination of the Vietnam-bound athletes at the Prince in Hotel in Manila.
“We still hope it pushes through as scheduled. Vietnam is one of the strongest countries in Southeast Asia in terms of economy and health capabilities,” he added.
Citing rising cases of Covid-19 in areas where some of the events are to be played, Vietnam had asked members of the SEAG Federation to postpone the event but offered no definite dates. Eight of the 11 member countries objected, prompting Vietnam to ask for another virtual meeting on July 8 to finally decide on the matter.
Vietnam also floated the idea of taking the hosting chore either in 2025 or 2027 but that would prove more difficult as they have to convince other countries to give way.
Tolentino said holding it in 2021 could still be an option even as other big international events are happening next year like the Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games, Asian Games, and the Winter Olympics.
“It’s just a matter of proper scheduling. Hindi naman lahat ng atleta lalaro sa mga malalaking games na ito,” said Tolentino, who also has his hands full as 19 Filipino athletes compete in the Tokyo Olympics this month.
Other countries who are willing to have the SEA Games go on as scheduled are Cambodia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, Brunei and Philippines. Vietnam and Myanmar, citing political turbulence, are opting for postponement. Laos abstained from making a stand.
The Philippines is the defending champion following its dominant showing in the Philippines’ 2019 SEA Games with a total haul of 149 gold, 117 silver, and 121 bronze medals.