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Philippines, 7 other nations vote against postponement of 2021 SEA Games

The Philippines on Wednesday voted against the postponement of the 2021 Southeast Asian Games after host Vietnam proposed to move the biennial meet from November 2021 to July 2022.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino, who attended the virtual meeting with other members of the SEA Games Council, said he thumbed down the proposal as the Pinoy delegates' preparation is now in full swing.

"It's unfair to the athletes who have already sacrificed their time and effort in training for the SEA Games," Tolentino said.

"Athletes are also preparing for the Asian Games, Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games and Winter Olympics next year. So it's very difficult for the SEA Games to be postponed," he added.

The National Olympic Committee (NOC) presidents of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor Leste, also voted against the postponement of the Games.

Meanwhile, Vietnam and Myanmar supported the proposal but Laos abstained.

According to Tolentino, a budget of P200 million has already been allocated for the training and participation of Team Philippines in the SEA Games.

In addition, athletes bound for the SEA Games and Tokyo Olympics have already been inoculated with the vaccines against COVID-19.

Although the majority of the participating nations have voted against the delay of the 2021 SEAG, Tolentino admitted that it will still boil down to the decision that Vietnam government will make next week.

A significant rise in COVID-19 cases in Vietnam forced the SEA Games organizers to explore the idea of pushing back the dates of the regional showcase, where the Philippines was hailed the overall champion in the 2019 edition.

As of June 6, Vietnam had recorded 211 new COVID-19 cases that added up to the country's total cases of 3,516.

"The hosts are also reluctant to postpone the Games because all their structures and venues are already complete. But the pandemic has raised the alarm," Tolentio said.

In a previous interview with GMA News Online, Ramon Fernandez—the country's chef de mission to the Vietnam SEA Games—said the Philippine Sports Commission would be ready for the postponement.

He, however, said it would deal the athletes' preparation a huge blow.

"With another delay, the athletes will be training on their own again. We might have to postpone their training because of the lack of funds otherwise, it will run out," said Fernandez in a mix of English and Filipino.

"But we will check also with DBM (Department of Budget and Management) if we can still use the P200 million allocated for the SEA Games to train them continually."

—MGP, GMA News