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Vietnam focuses on Olympic sports

CLARKFIELD, Pampanga – Unless host Vietnam takes a page from the Philippines’ book, it doesn’t look as though the 2021 Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi will feature sports that one usually associates with summertime activities and those seen played in playgrounds.

Vietnam is already working on the staging of its turn to host the biennial sportsfest and latest reports say sports that will be played are those mostly being held in the Olympic Games.

Thirty-six sports have been tagged but there are a few Vietnamese favorites that should make it to the official calendar of events such as shuttlecock (a hybrid of badminton and sepak takraw) and vovinam, Vietnam’s traditional martial arts, and fin swimming.

Bambol questions Clint Aranas' qualification to run as president of POC, saying he lacks the required four-year term needed. (Nick Gionco)

REP. Bambol Tolentino

Traditionally, a host country is given leeway to include obscure sports, a way of enhancing its chances of winning the overall crown.

This year’s edition features 530 events in 56 sports, making the 2019 SEAG the biggest ever.

Conceptualized by Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino, the Philippine hosting has enabled the host to run away with the highest number of gold medals with sports like arnis, danceport, skating, E-Sports and obstacle course, being played.

Tolentino, however, swears it will entail a lot of convincing for these sports to be included in the final roster.

The initial meeting of the 2021 SEAG will take place in March 2020 in the host and capital city of Hanoi, where Sen. Migz Zubiri, who heads arnis, will be attending alongside Tolentino.

“Katatakot-takot na ligawan ito (It’s going to take a lot of persuasive powers to make it happen),” said Tolentino.

Vietnam is the leading challenger to the Philippines’ quest to win the 2019 overall crown.

When it hosted the SEAG for the first time in 2003, it featured 442 events in 32 sports and Vietnam topped the standings with 158 gold medals.

In 2011, when Jakarta-Palembang in Indonesia hosted the SEAG, there were 552 events in 44 sports.

But still, the Philippines’ 56 should remain forever, a number that is not likely to be topped by Vietnam in 2021.

After all, arnis and dancesport accounted for 24 gold medals for the Philippines this year.