MANILA, Philippines -- The organizers of the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam have agreed to open the biennial event in mid-May next year.
Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino made the confirmation following Monday's online SEA Games Federation meeting among the 11 member countries.
The Vietnamese organizers, according to Tolentino, were amenable to any date for the opening ceremony in mid-May. The Cambodians, he said, took some convincing.
"Cambodia will host the 32nd edition in 2023 and they want to have at least a year’s window for them to prepare," Tolentino explained. "Initially, they wanted the opening ceremony to be on May 5 or earlier."
Cambodia will host its first SEA Games and has set its opening ceremony on May 5, 2023.
"As the debate went on, I suggested a May 12 opening ceremony, a Monday, stressing 'what difference can one week make?'" said Tolentino. "And they (the Cambodians) agreed."
The Hanoi SEA Games were originally scheduled from November 21 to December 2 this year, but Vietnam's government postponed them because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The Vietnamese organizers will confirm the specific dates soon," said Tolentino.
There will be 520 events in 40 sports to be contested in Hanoi.
In 2019, the Philippines dominated the SEA Games at home where 530 events in 54 sports took place.
The Hanoi SEA Games opening ceremony comes three days after the general elections, and Tolentino said the Philippine delegation will fly to Vietnam in batches depending on the events' schedules.
The POC submitted a 626-athlete entry by numbers for the Hanoi Games. They will compete in 39 sports.
Among the SEA Games Federation members who attended the online meeting were: Major General Charouck Arirachakaran, Dr. Varin Tansuphasiri, Professor Charoen Wattanasin, Dato Seri Chaiyapak Siriwat and Thana Chaiprasit of Thailand, Dato Norza Zakaria and Dato Nazifudin of Malaysia, Ferry Kono of Indonesia, Chris Chan of Singapore and Tran Van Manh of Vietnam.