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Vietnam SEA Games scaled down

Vietnam will not be expected to equal its hosting of the 2021 Southeast Asian Games with the scale of the Philippine staging last year. Vietnam emerging as overall champion should also not be expected.

Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol’’ Tolentino said it is possible the 2021 calendar of events will not be as extensive as the 30th edition hosted by the Philippines last December since Vietnam organizers have cut down their budget for the hosting.

“If they (organizers) reduce the number of sports, it follows that we will send a scaled-down delegation,’’ said Tolentino.

Team Philippines won a record 149 gold medals and was the runaway overall champion, with Vietnam a badly-beaten runnerup after collecting 98. The Philippines also sent the biggest delegation in history with athletes numbering 1,115 taking part in a total of 56 events—also the highest number yet.

And a scaled-down staging means sports like arnis and dancesports might not get inclusion to the Vietnam schedule, which would mean 24 gold medals less for the Philippine delegation.

Vietnam reportedly slashed its projected expenses for the 11-nation sportsfest to $42.5 million (roughly P2.125 billion), which is $38.2 million less based on the original budget.

The cutback for both the 31st SEA Games and the 11th Asean Para Games was triggered by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Vietnam plans to upgrade its facilities for the Games to the tune of $25.5 million (P1.275 billion).

The Philippines spent P6 billion for hosting the biggest SEA Games in history.

“We have yet to officially turn over the hosting to them (Vietnam organizers). We are scheduled to meet within the month where they will present the calendar of events,’’ said Tolentino.

“It will be quite disappointing for the athletes whose sports won’t be able to participate in the SEA Games next year,’’ added the Cavite congressman and PhilCycling president.

Tolentino hinted that contact sports could be in danger of being excluded due to physical distancing while non-contact disciplines should strictly follow the guidelines recommended by their respective international federations. The Vietnam Games is tentatively set from Nov. 21 to Dec. 2, 2021 in Hanoi where 36 to 40 sports have been initially calendared.

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