The Southeast Asian Games Federation has given host Vietnam until October to decide whether or not it will push through with the staging of the 31st SEA Games.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Bambol Tolentino disclosed this development Monday following the federation’s online meeting last Friday about the situation.
“The consensus was for Vietnam to make a decision, otherwise, the 31st SEA Games would be canceled,” he said.
The biennial meet was originally scheduled late this year until Vietnamese organizers decided to postpone it due to the rising COVID-19 cases in the region.
Tolentino said the federation decided the proposed late May 2022 schedule was the most convenient and logical for all 11 member countries with the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games set on March 10 to 20, 2022 in Thailand, the Asian Games scheduled on Sept. 10 to 25 in Hangzhou, China and the Asian Youth Games from Dec. 20 to 28 in Shantou, China.
Aside from the three major regional events, the Beijing Winter Olympics is set from Feb. 4 to 20 and the International Olympic Committee-sanctioned World Games is on July 7 to 22 in Alabama, United States.
“That leaves Vietnam a very small window to hold the SEA Games,” Tolentino said.
“All these five competitions are major events, they are staged once every four years.”
Tolentino added the schedule for the 31st SEA Games is crucial since Cambodia is deciding to hold the 32nd edition in February 2023.
“That’s the reason why Vietnam could only have until the latter part of May to host.
Cambodia, Tolentino said, emphasized that it needs its own comfortable window—eight months if Vietnam hosts in May—to guarantee its successful first hosting of the games.
“We understand the situation of Cambodia because as hosts in 2019, we had two years at least to prepare for our successful campaign and hosting,” Tolentino said.
“Cambodia wants to excel in its hosting debut and, in fact, all infrastructure and collateral for the 32nd SEA Games are ready.”
If Hanoi is canceled, Tolentino said Vietnam could take its turn in 2027.
“Thailand is host of the 33rd edition in 2025 and as of now, Laos or Brunei has yet to confirm for 2027,” he said.
“If these two countries pull back, then Vietnam gets its turn back.”