Vietnam opens venues to spectators

HANOI—Philippine Sports Commission Commissioner Ramon Fernandez bared on Tuesday that spectators would now be allowed to cheer for the athletes at the competition venues of the 31st Southeast Asian Games.

Fernandez, the country’s chef de mission to the Games, attended the first chef de mission meeting at the Hyatt Regency West Hanoi here where all 11 CDMs of the 11 national Olympic committee graced the gathering.

``The host country will open the venues to fans and spectators as long as they strictly follow health and safety protocols,’’ said Fernandez, who attended the meeting with PSC Public Communications Office head Emmalyn Bamba.

Except for football, Fernandez said no fees will be charged at the entrance in all competition venues of the 39 sports from the opening ceremonies of the Games on Thursday until the closing rites on May 23.

``Tickets will only be sold during football matches where a large volume of spectators are expected,’’ said Fernandez. With the gates opened to the public, Fernandez pushed for the safety of the athletes from contracting the COVID-19 virus, which was seconded by Indonesia and Singapore and supported by all CDMs.

``Vietnam organizers assured that health protocols will be in place by wearing masks and the strict implementation of social distancing,’’ said Fernandez.

Other concerns were discussed during the CDM meeting with Fernandez raising the issue of the presence of a medical room, which will be stationed at the headquarters of the Philippine delegation here.

Also discussed were the arrangements for the Team Welcome Ceremony for Team Philippines and other countries on Wednesday, a day prior to the opening rites. The nation’s participation in the 11-nation multi-sports meet has been funded by the PSC, the government arm in sports, to fuel the title-retention bid of the 980-strong delegation, including 641 athletes from 38 sports.