THE fate of the 31st Southeast Asian Games is still up in the air following plans of host Vietnam to postpone it due to a new virus outbreak, but long-time sports official Monico Puentevella believes the regional competition should be held as scheduled.
The competition, considered as the “Olympics of Asia”, is due to be held in Hanoi and 11 other locations on Nov. 21-Dec. 2.
Vietnam, however, suggested to postpone the event to July 22 next year due to a surge in coronavirus cases in Bac Ninh and Bac Giang and other provinces hosting some of the events.
But Puentevella, president of the Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP), thinks otherwise.
“For the sake of all the athletes, I would suggest na ituloy itong SEA Games sa Hanoi this year,” said Puentevella during the “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom.
“Sa Tokyo Olympics, I am also one of those na nag-advocate na ituloy. You see, I always have the athletes on mind. Pag dinelay mo ito (SEAG), it means another adjustment on the part of the athletes,” said Puentevella during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
“Naaawa ako parati sa mga atleta because I know the pains, the hardships and sacrifices ng mga atleta everyday, tapos hindi pala matutuloy.
Kapag kinansel at ginawang next year, puno na ang schedule dahil may Asian Games sa China by September. Malulunod diyan ang SEA Games,” Puentevella told editors and sportswriters.
Puentevella, a former member of the Executive Committee of the SEA Games, said the Vietnamese organizers should not mind if there would be no fans in attendance or limited crowd in the playing venues just like in the Tokyo Olympics.
“If you ask me, mabuti na ituloy ang SEAG maski walang gallery or crowd gaya ng mga nangyayari ngayon around the world. Minsan ang football nga, walang tao. Basta para sa kapakanan ng mga atleta.”
If the SEA Games will push thru, Puentevella said he is excited for the Filipino weightlifters.
“Si Hidilyn (Diaz), mag-gold pa yan sa SEA Games. Pati si Ando. Nobody heard of Ando that much. Ngayon lang talaga sumikat ang bata. In Cebu, she’s a superstar right now. Nandiyan din sina Vanessa Sarno, Macrohon at Rosegie Ramos. Marami sa Zamboanga at Bohol.
Maraming susunod pa. Madami gusto maging gaya nila at mag-compete din sa Uzbekistan, sa Paris.”
“Kaya Im very glad because the Philippine Sports Commission is helping me a lot. Pasalamat ako kay Chairman Butch Ramirez kasi he understands. Kasama ko pa yan dati sa PSC and he’s doing a good job, pati ibang mga kasama.”
Earlier, AFP reported that Viet am is planning to postpone the games.
“The Vietnam Olympics Committee, the host for SEA Games 31, has sent a letter to countries informing them of its proposal to postpone SEA Games 31 to July 2022 due to the complicated situation of the Covid-19 pandemic,” according to Phap Luat Online.
The AFP report said virus cases have more than tripled in Vietnam since April to o.
Although the number is low in comparison to most of its Southeast Asian neighbors, Vietnam’s vaccination rate per capita is the lowest in the region and among the lowest in Asia, according to an AFP tally.
SEA Games events are due to take place in some of the worst affected provinces including Bac Ninh and Bac Giang, in the country’s northeast.
One badminton venue in Bac Giang has been turned into a field hospital.
The multi sports competition is e expected to attract nearly 20,000 participants, including about 7,000 athletes, from 11 countries, according to state media.
Aside from Olympic disciplines, sports are likely to include billiards and snooker, bodybuilding, chess, bowling and kurash, an ancient form of Uzbek wrestling.