The SEA Games open within the Vietnamese capital Hanoi on Thursday after a six-month COVID delay with Southeast Asian pleasure at stake in every part from soccer to bodybuilding and eSports.
Greater than 5,000 athletes together with Olympic champions are vying for over 500 gold medals within the occasion, which is staged each two years, in what ought to be packed arenas.
The 11-nation Games embody conventional Olympic sports activities akin to athletics, swimming and boxing, but in addition regional ones like sepak takraw, an attention-grabbing volleyball-style recreation the place groups kick a rattan ball.
Thailand’s taekwondo world primary Panipak Wongpattanakit and Philippine weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who each received gold ultimately yr’s Tokyo Olympics, are among the top athletes on display.
Singaporean swimmer Joseph Education, who received the city-state’s historic first Olympic gold in 2016, is juggling nationwide army service again dwelling with collaborating and hopes to regain his scintillating previous kind.
Host nations sometimes embody sports activities by which they carry out nicely, serving to them clinch quite a few golds however main to criticism that it detracts from the status of the competitors.
Nonetheless, with 40 sports activities on this version, down from 56 in Manila in 2019, Vietnam insists it’s searching for a “honest Games” with little area for native sports activities.
“The hosts could have to combat as arduous as different groups to earn golds in opposition to powerhouses, particularly Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia,” Games organzsing committee deputy head Tran Duc Phan stated on state-owned Vietnam Information.
Organizers have although nonetheless added some native taste.
This thirty first version of the regional spectacular would be the first to function xiangqi, also called Chinese language chess, which is wildly common within the host nation.
These Games will even see the return of Vietnamese martial artwork vovinam.
Occasions retained from 2019 embody eSports, dancesport — a aggressive type of ballroom dancing — and the traditional Uzbek wrestling artwork of kurash.
Malaysia win first gold
The opening ceremony is on Thursday however some competitions have already begun, with Malaysia successful the primary gold when diver Nur Dhabitah Sabri triumphed within the girls’s one-meter springboard.
These Games have been initially scheduled to happen in November however have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With infections falling closely since a peak of greater than 200,000 a day in March, spectators in venues — they do not even have to take a COVID test — might be a distinction to final yr’s largely fan-free Tokyo Olympics.
Solely final week the 2022 Asian Games have been postponed due to the virus. The multisport, Olympic-sized showpiece had been scheduled to happen within the Chinese language metropolis of Hangzhou in September.
The SEA Games are centerd on Hanoi with motion additionally happening in 11 close by northern provinces.
It’s the second time that Vietnam has hosted the Games — the 2003 version was hosted by Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh Metropolis — and a few 2,000 banners have been positioned round Hanoi for Thursday’s opening ceremony in My Dinh Stadium.
Native media stated that 1000’s of individuals queued up in a single day to snap up tickets for soccer matches that includes the Vietnam workforce.
Some locals view the Games as an indication that life is returning to regular.
“Now we have gone by means of an enormous Covid pandemic,” stated 25-year-old Hanoi resident Nguyen Bich Ngoc.
“Our authorities has spent plenty of efforts to arrange this SEA Games for our nation and Southeast Asia.”
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