Looking back at 2022: SEA Games 31 arouses desire for devotion after COVID-19 pandemic

Tuesday, 24/01/2023 12:15
More than 2 years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic appeared and gradually spread globally. Vietnam was no exception and all aspects of life, economy and society were seriously affected.
Vietnam U23 football players held up a picture of President Ho Chi Minh celebrating the victory after winning the prestigious Gold medal at SEA Games 31, on the evening of May 22, 2022 at the My Dinh National Stadium (Hanoi). (Photo: VNA) 

At that time, many events and activities had to be suspended, postponed or canceled, including the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games 31). However, with the efforts of the whole political system, the timely and drastic intervention of the Government and ministries, branches and agencies, the COVID-19 pandemic was controlled, the society returned to normal life after about 2 years of fighting the pandemic.

From a historic decision

SEA Games 31 was originally scheduled to be held in November 2021. However, due to the complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was postponed to 2022. This was the first SEA Games that had to be rescheduled because of the pandemic.

Also in 2021, facing the fact that the pandemic underwent more and more unpredictable development, Hanoi was forced to apply the directives of the Prime Minister on social distancing throughout the city, all activities were suspended, with the highest priority given to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not only in Vietnam, but also throughout Southeast Asian countries, the pandemic also put great pressure on society, so it was really difficult to move from one country to another because of the fear of spreading the pandemic. The worry of a SEA Games without spectators was always present when the pandemic could break out at any time and was difficult to predict.

However, with great determination, the whole political system's efforts were devoted to pandemic prevention and control to bring life back to normal, not to miss the pace of economic development, and not to miss the opportunity to organize major international events - the opportunity to promote the image of the country and people of Vietnam to international friends through SEA Games 31.

With the right, flexible and effective policies, the COVID-19 pandemic was gradually controlled and pushed back, until the end of 2021, when the pandemic situation in Vietnam and Southeast Asian countries was basically under control, the date for SEA Games 31 was set.

The worry of a SEA Games without spectators was really removed when the Government made a historic decision on opening tourism since March 15, which meant that tourists, fans and sports lovers from other countries could come to Vietnam to live together in the atmosphere of the largest sports festival in the region. Meanwhile, on April 28, the Department of Preventive Health under the Ministry of Health issued an official dispatch on stopping medical declarations about COVID-19, to serve SEA Games 31. Therefore, all people entering Vietnam to participate and attend SEA Games 31 did not have to make a medical declaration about COVID-19.

Finally, overcoming all the difficulties and challenges, on the evening of May 12, thousands of athletes and fans at the My Dinh National Stadium and millions of Southeast Asian spectators witnessed an opening ceremony of the SEA Games which was spectacular and impressive imbued with Vietnamese cultural identity, blending with the noble sports spirit.

To a bright SEA Games

At the closing ceremony of SEA Games 31 on the evening of May 23, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung, Head of the SEA Games 31 Organizing Committee, said that the Organizing Committee awarded a total of 1,759 medals of all kinds, including 525 Gold medals, 522 Silver medals and 712 Bronze medals; with 30 SEA Games records set. The Vietnamese sports delegation entered the history of the SEA Games with a record of 205 Gold medals; and broke the SEA Games record in 17 of 30 categories.

Members of the Taekwondo team won Gold medal in their first match at SEA Games 31, on the morning of May 16, 2022. (Photo: VNA) 

SEA Games 31 was held in 12 provinces and cities of Vietnam. Almost at any competition venue, regardless of the sport category, whether there were athletes from the host country competing or not, it received great support from the spectators.

SEA Games 31 left a great impression on the Vietnamese people in general and on sports lovers in particular when the image of the grandstands filled with spectators, the festive atmosphere was throughout the competition halls. The cheering for the athletes of both the "host team" and the "guest team" in an unbiased way was the clearest proof of a pure love of sports, and of friendly and hospitable Vietnamese people.

Mr. Mohammed Djouadj, Vice President of the World Vovinam Federation, President of the African Vovinam Federation, expressed his impression on the organization of SEA Games 31 by the host country Vietnam. According to Mr. Djouadj, Vietnam is a country that organizes big events. "When I came here, I felt that a major regional sporting event was being held here. The Vietnamese Government has tried its best to have a successful SEA Games, thereby heightening the image of Vietnam in the region and in the world," he said.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic still raging in many parts of the world, a number of major international sports events had to be held in conditions of no spectators or postponed, the image of the stands filled with spectators at SEA Games 31 was the clearest proof for a safe Vietnam that overcame the pandemic to return to normal life. This was also a testament to the enthusiasm, friendliness and hospitality of the host country, contributing to promoting the image, country, people and culture of Vietnam to international friends./.

Compiled by BTA