Fireworks lights up the sky during the closing ceremony of the 30th SEA Games. (AFP)

HANOI, Vietnam (AFP) – The Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam, postponed this year due to the pandemic, will be held in May 2022, the country’s Olympic Committee said Friday.

The regional Olympics were scheduled to take place in Hanoi and 11 other locations in Vietnam from November 21 to December 2.

But a devastating wave of coronavirus which hit many of the provinces due to be hosting Games events forced the postponement.

The event will now run from May 12 to 23 next year, according to a report on the Vietnam Olympics Committee website, citing a decision made by deputy prime minister Vu Duc Dam.

There had been concern over finding a suitable time in the sporting calendar for the rescheduled Games, but the new dates do not coincide with major global or regional sporting events, the report said.

“This is one of those sacrifices of having to represent the country in an international competition,” said Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President and Tagaytay Rep. Bambol Tolentino.

The POC has already determined a 626-athlete delegation to the Vietnam games which will be played in the Hanoi main hub.

“The main bulk of the delegation will be leaving for Vietnam no less than a week before the opening ceremony,” Tolentino said. “This is because our athletes need to acclimatize and get the feel of the competition venues, environment and weather.”

Vietnam previously hosted the multi-sports competition in 2003. It has allocated a budget of around $69 million for the Games.

The SEA Games are expected to attract nearly 20,000 participants, including about 7,000 athletes from 11 countries, according to state media.

“With the dates set, our athletes, through their national sports associations, could now specifically program their training and peak at the right time in May,” Tolentino said.

The Philippines will compete in 39 of the 40 sports on the Vietnam games program.

As well as Olympic disciplines sports are likely to include billiards and snooker, bodybuilding, chess, bowling and kurash, an ancient form of Uzbek wrestling.

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