As late as the year 2019, the world was eagerly anticipating the wonders to be witnessed when the Summer Olympics kick off in Tokyo the following year. Much was expected of it after then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared at the conclusion of Rio 2016 dressed as videogame legend Super Mario. Then COVID-19 happened and the Games were pushed to 2021; and even now it looks like a tossup between outright cancellation or happening with dramatic limitations. The next Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi are in much the same boat. Originally scheduled for later this year, the organizers have decided to copy Tokyo’s 2020 decision too.
GMA News has it that the 2021 Southeast Asian Games will not be happening in 2021 after all. This was revealed on Thursday, July 8, by Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham Tolentino, who noted that the members of the SEA Games Federation have unanimously decided on that same day to postpone the multi-sport athletic event, which would have been held for about a week and a half, from November 21 to December 2. It does not take a genius to know that the putting off of the SEA Games was due to the pandemic.
Of course, the SEAG Federation insists that this is merely a postponement and not a cancellation. Tolentino stated during a Thursday press conference that the host country Vietnam is determined to see the Games held, even if it must be done at a later date. He adds that the organizers are discussing the new date for the event and will probably announce their decision within the next ten days. The likelihood is that any date is guaranteed to be next year, but that it would be determined to kick off in the first half of 2022. This is to give Cambodia ample prep time for organizing the 2023 SEA Games.
Meanwhile Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Commissioner and Vietnam SEAG Team Philippines chef de mission Ramon Fernandez, finds himself with another decision to make. That is to determine if the Filipino athletes competing at Hanoi, Vietnam will continue their scheduled training regimens or take a break while the new SEA Games date is determined. Fernandez remarks that the athletes and their coaches and trainers have to “play by ear” while no new dates are given, as it would be bad for if the competitors work hard only for the reschedule to be months into next year.
The previous SEA Games were held in November-December 2019 in Manila and other Luzon venues, with host country the Philippines emerging as the overall champion with a massive total medal haul of 387 (149 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze).
Image courtesy of Manila Bulletin