31st Sea Games - Vietnam 2021 Covid-19 Pandemic
May 23, 2022 / 22:36

SEA Games 31 concludes: Vietnam helps raise regional sports level

Regional sports delegations and visitors are impressed with Vietnam's warmth, friendship, and hospitality.

Vietnam has helped raise the level of the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) by including Olympic and Asian Games (ASIAD) sports in the competition programs.  

Ramon Fernandez, Head of the Philippine sports delegation, gave the comment when sharing some impressions on the organization and the qualification of international referees at SEA Games 31 that was held in Hanoi and 11 nearby localities.

He said the host country has been very open and tried to create a fair game, contributing to raising the level of SEA Games. Other delegations supported Vietnam’s model and vowed to bring more Olympic athletes to the SEA Games.

 Vietnam is believed to help raise level of SEA Games. Photo: Ngoc Tu-Duy Khanh/The Hanoi Times 

Vietnam finished top at the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games 31) which concluded today [May 23] after two weeks of competition.

Its athletes won 446 medals in total, including 205 golds, 125 silvers, and 116 bronzes, breaking the record that Indonesia set in 1997 with 194 gold medals.

The number of gold medals exceeded the target of 140 set for the Games. Notably, Hanoi’s athletes contributed 62 golds, 35 silvers, and 54 bronzes to Vietnam’s total. 

Vietnam competed in all 40 sports which are included in the Olympic Games and the Asian Games (ASIAD).

Thailand ranked the second with 331 medals (92, 103, 136), followed by Indonesia with 241 medals (69, 91, 81), the Philippines placed third with 226 medals (52, 70, 104), Singapore was the fifth with 116 medals (47, 46, 73) and Malaysia 174 (39, 45, 90) respectively.

The other nations: Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Brunei bagged 9, 9, 2, and 1 gold medals, respectively. Timor Leste ended the games without a gold medal, winning three silvers and two bronzes.

Head of the Vietnamese contingent Tran Duc Phan attributed Vietnam’s achievements to non-interrupted training and preparations for the past two years and the advantages of competing at home in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. He emphasized that “Vietnam competed fairly without including the home team’s strong events into the Games programs and excluding other countries’ strengths.” For that reason, 119 out of Vietnam’s 205 gold medals are from sports listed in the Olympic Paris 2024.

Sharing the same idea, Haji Mohamad Rosfazilah bin Haji Yusly, Head of Brunei’s delegation, said he highly appreciated international referees who are qualified and professional.

“As far as I could see, everything is very transparent and fair. The Filipino athletes and coaches themselves had no feedback on the arbitration issues,” said Fernandez.           

 SEA Games unifies regional athletes and people. Photo: Thanh Nien

Good impressions

Both Vietnam men’s and women’s football teams retained their titles and won at SEA Games 30 in 2019. Interestingly, both teams faced Thailand’s in the matches for the gold medal.

As many as 25 new records were set in this Games, of which, the Vietnamese athletes set 12 records, including four in swimming, three in weightlifting, three in diving, and two in athletics.

Vietnam’s athletics earned 22 gold medals, the record high in the SEA Games history.

Among the compliments for the organization's works, Hanoi, one of the 11 localities hosting the sports, was lauded for good venues, professional organization, convenient traveling, hospitality, and the beauty of the city with both modern and ancient architecture.

Tran Duc Phan said Vietnam narrowly missed hosting the Games due to Covid-19 even when the organizers started to invite representatives of the regional contingents to inspect the venues in Vietnam in March. However, the pandemic was contained shortly after that, allowing safe mobility and ensuring safety for athletes during their stay in the country.

To learn experiences for the next SEA Games, Cambodia sent more than 100 officials to Vietnam to learn about the organization's work, according to Nhan Sokvisal, Head of Cambodia’s contingent. He said the enthusiastic and English proficient volunteers are an important force for the hosting country as they also work as culture and tourism ambassadors. 

Mohamad Rosfazilah said Vietnam is totally capable of hosting ASIAD as the country has good facilities and venues coupled with good logistics and connections linking the sub-sites.

 Locals cheer all athletes regardless of nationality. Photo: Duy Khanh/The Hanoi Times

One thing that impressed the visitors is the frenzy of the spectators at all venues who cheered all athletes regardless of nationality.

Ramon Fernandez said he wishes Filipinos love sports as much as Vietnamese do. “I am impressed with the sports spirit of the Vietnamese people. That is very important because the ultimate meaning of sport is to unify everyone.”

According to Kimberly Kwek, reporter for The Straits Times, Singapore, warmth has been one of the highlights of her two weeks covering the SEA Games. “Before I left for Vietnam, one of the things I had been most excited about was the atmosphere and I was not disappointed.”

“Even as the Vietnamese were fervent in their support for their own, they were also gracious toward athletes from other countries. The blaring of horns and beating of drums filled the Bac Giang Gymnasium even when the final day did not feature any Vietnamese badminton players,” she noted.

Tan Chuan-Jin, Speaker of Singapore’s Parliament and President of Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) said it is really difficult to organize a major Games and amidst Covid, therefore, what Vietnam had done is very impressive.

“To be able to do what they’ve done really is first class. Talking to our athletes and officials, they have felt nothing but warmth, friendship, and hospitality,” he said, noting that “I’m very grateful to Vietnam for hosting this and providing this blessing to all of us.”

The Closing Ceremony of the Games was held Monday evening at the Hanoi Indoor Games Gymnasium.

Four excellent athletes of the tournament include Nguyen Thi Oanh, Vietnam (athletics, 3 gold medals), Nguyen Huy Hoang, Vietnam (swimming, 5 gold medals), Jing Wen Quah, Singapore, (swimming, 6 gold medals), and Joshua Robert Atkinson, Thailand (athletics, 4 gold medals). 

 The frenzy of local spectators. Photo: Khanh Huy/The Hanoi Times