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Waiting game ensues in Hanoi SEAG fate as 8 NOC's oppose postponement

POC president Bambol Tolentino is among those who opposed the proposal to postpone the SEA Games this year.
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The fate of holding the Southeast Asian Games as scheduled from Nov. 21-Dec. 2 in Hanoi now lies in the hands of the Vietnamese government.

This as an ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases in Vietnam has raised the idea of postponing the event to 2022.

However, when the proposal was presented to the SEA Games Federation in a virtual meeting on Wednesday, eight national Olympic committees including that of the Philippines voted no to the postponement.

Explaining his vote, Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino said that everything is being cast in stone right now in terms of training and budget.

“It’s unfair to the athletes who have already sacrificed their time and effort in training for the SEA Games,” Tolentino said, adding that a hefty PHP200 million budget has been allocated for the athletes.

Also, the POC has begun vaccinating the athletes and coaches with anti-COVID-19 shots since May 28 as part of a requirement set by the host that all the participants must be inoculated before joining.

Tolentino also said that the athletes are using the SEA Games as a tuneup for next year's Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, Asian Games, and Winter Olympics, so postponing the SEA Games could take a toll on their bid.

“It’s very difficult for the SEA Games to be postponed,” Tolentino continued.

According to Phap Luat Online, the Vietnam Olympic Committee is looking to move the SEA Games to July next year, way after the Winter Olympics in Beijing from Feb. 4-20 and the AIMAG in Bangkok and Chonburi from March 10-20.

Despite the no vote from the SEA Games Federation, Tolentino said that the Vietnamese government will still have a final say on the postponement.

“The final decision will be known next week,” he further said.

However, Tolentino bared that Vietnam is reluctant in postponing the SEA Games as the chosen arenas and battlegrounds for the biennial meet are now ready to host the athletes.

“The hosts are also reluctant to postpone the Games because all their structures and venues are already complete. But the pandemic has raised the alarm,” Tolentino said.

On the other hand, Chef De Mission Mon Fernandez said that he would respect Vietnam's final say on the SEA Games postponement.

However, the Philippine Sports Commission commissioner added that postponing the games could be beneficial to the athletes.

"If it’s going to be postponed, that will give us a longer time to prepare our athletes," Fernandez said. "All our athletes will be vaccinated by then."

The POC is planning to send 626 Filipino athletes in 39 sports for the upcoming SEA Games.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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