Vietnam hosts 31st SEA Games successfully beyond expectations

Tuesday, 21/06/2022 23:10
(CPV) – Nearly one month has passed since the closing ceremony of the 31st SEA Games, and international friends continue to appreciate Vietnam's organization of SEA Games, expressing their affection for Vietnam's determination in gaining high sports achievements, its people’s hospitality and as well as their good impression on the image of Vietnamese people and culture.

Successful organization and competition

According to Mr. Neermal Shunmugam, Counsellor/Chargé d'Affaires, Embassy of Malaysia in Vietnam, Vietnam successfully planned, organized and concluded the 31st SEA Games despite a very challenging period. The meticulous planning and commitment from top to lower level leadership of Party, State and relevant agencies ensured this tournament to be remembered as one of the best ever to be organized. 

 The Malaysian sports team at the 31st SEA Games (Photo: VNA)

The endless coordination, commitment and support from the Vietnam SEA Games Organizing Committee ensured that all participating countries received fair and equal treatment. The Malaysian officials and athletes were delighted with the facilities and environment throughout their events.

Talking about the achievements by Vietnamese athletes at the 31st SEA Games, he said that the achievements were remarkable and perhaps difficult to surpass in the near future. The medal tally showcased Vietnam’s preparations and commitment to win and set new records for themselves. The country has also invested in sports and produced excellent world class athletes. The 31st SEA Games result portrayed to all Southeast Asia that a new sporting giant was born.

The SEA Games enhanced personal relations especially, among the high-level delegation from all Southeast Asian nations. After more than two years of physical absence, the event enabled people to meet face to face and engage. The SEA Games Federation Council meeting was also held prior to the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi and it was attended by representatives from all 11 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) from the region. Thailand (2025), Malaysia (2027) and Singapore (2029) were awarded rights to be the host for SEA Games during the meeting.

Meticulous planning, preparation and execution are the three main factors which led to the success of Vietnam’s SEA Games. The tremendous efforts of Vietnamese supporters also played a major role in enabling Vietnamese athletes to perform with resolute spirit.

Ms Chan Nyeint War, First Secretary of the Myanmar Embassy in Vietnam, said that she was impressed by the active response of Vietnam’s organization whenever the Embassy contacted and asked regarding the transportation, contact phone numbers, and assignment of volunteers for the Myanmar Sports Team.

Ms Chan Nyeint War encourages the Myanmar women football team at the Cam Pha Stadium. (Photo credit: The Myanmar Embassy in Vietnam) 

“Please accept my sincere appreciation for the support of the Myanmar delegation and sports teams in all matters and for the friendly cooperation with the Embassy and Myanmar Committee,” she added. “I assume that sport is not only a sport. It consists of the support and management of the Government, the involvement of the people, and the development of the country.”

Going on to say that she had attended two SEA Games and opening ceremonies and she encouraged 5 games via online throughout the SEA Games. According to Ms War, Myanmar hosted the SEA Games in 2013. At that time, the Government trained the liaison officers, volunteers, staff and concerned people well with skills such as proficiency of language, behavior, how to give service to delegations, how to solve the problems and how to take care of the sports teams. “I appreciate the efforts of the Vietnamese volunteers. The youths of both countries are very friendly and very active in the journey of SEA Games,” she asserted, adding that they had good will and good spirit.

Talking with reporters from Communist Party of Vietnam Online Newspaper, Jaya Ratnam, Singaporean Ambassador to Vietnam, said, “I would like to express my thanks to the organising committee of the 31st SEA Games for their superb arrangements, and for taking such good care of the team of Singapore’s athletes, coaches, officials, and families. The organising committee provided excellent hospitality to the Singapore leaders who visited Vietnam to support our athletes – Speaker of Parliament and President of the Singapore National Olympic Council Mr. Tan Chuan-Jin; Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Mr. Edwin Tong, Minister of State Ms Low Yen Ling, and Parliamentary Secretary Mr. Eric Chua.”

“Together with our leaders, I attended as many sports events as I could, and was touched by the warm hospitality we received in every province and venue that we visited. Singaporeans love food, so our contingent also took the opportunity to experience Vietnam’s amazing street food culture between events. I am sure many of them cannot wait for their next visit to Vietnam. We look forward to reciprocating Vietnam’s hospitality when Singapore hosts the 35th SEA Games in 2029.”

According to Ambassador Jaya Ratnam, it is not easy to organise a major sports event like the SEA Games, but Vietnam’s organisation of the games was first-class. “This year’s SEA Games was exceptionally challenging but also particularly special for our region, since it was the first major people-to-people activity in Southeast Asia since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Having taken up my post as Ambassador just before the major outbreak of COVID-19 in Vietnam last year, I was delighted to see Hanoi return to life over the month of May, as Noi Bai Airport heaved with international visitors and sports stadiums across northern Vietnam filled to bursting with fans,” he said.

Singaporean Speaker of Parliament and President of the Singapore National Olympic Council Mr. Tan Chuan-Jin with Vietnamese leaders during the opening ceremony of the 31st SEA Games  (Photo credit: The Singaporean Embassy in Vietnam) 

Agreeing that Vietnam gained success both in terms of SEA Games organization and sports achievements, Ms Maria Olandina Isabel Caeiro Alves, Timor Leste Ambassador to Vietnam, informed that at the 31st SEA Games, Timor-Leste sports delegation attended with 39 athletes and competed in 7 out of 40 sports, including athletics, football, karate, taekwondo, weightlifting, swimming and boxing.

“When our athletes arrived at the airport, representatives of the Embassy also came to the airport to welcome and encourage the athletes. We were very surprised at the warm and thoughtful welcome of the organizers and volunteers,” she said. “Two athletes in our sports delegation had problems when going through immigration procedures to Vietnam. However, the organizers of SEA Games and Vietnamese authorities enthusiastically supported them and after about 36 hours, those two Timor-Leste citizens completed the application and entered Vietnam.”

"I attended the opening ceremony of the 31st SEA Games held at My Dinh National Stadium on the evening of May 12, 2022. For me, this was a well-prepared, grandiose and impressive opening ceremony. The ceremony lit a positive fire, spreading the sports spirit of the 31st SEA Games to the people of Vietnam in particular and the people of 11 countries in the region in general. It was truly a memorable and amazing ceremony for me."

"I would like to congratulate Vietnam for the great victory and the Vietnamese sports delegation for their admirable achievements at the 31st SEA Games. This is a very impressive result indeed. In the complicated context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnamese athletes still practice and get the results like today."

"With 205 gold medals at the 31st SEA Games, Vietnamese athletes not only show us the athletes' efforts, but also show the solidity of their expertise."

"Our Timor-Leste is a young country. The 31st SEA Games was an opportunity for us to promote the country and the people of Timor-Leste. Our athletes did their best and also made a strong impression on the Vietnamese media as well as the media in Southeast Asia."

"We attended the 31st SEA Games with the spirit of learning. We look forward to opportunities for growth for our young athletes."

"During this 31st SEA Games, I think the sports delegation of Timor-Leste has learned from the organization of the SEA Games organizers, the experience of the athletes, and the experience of the coaches."

"In the future, I think the Timor-Leste Government will send delegations of officials to work and learn from Vietnam."

"I think the factors leading to Vietnam’s success are the total support from the government and other entities, the expertise of Vietnamese athletes in sports, the efforts of Vietnamese athletes to practice despite the complicated context of COVID-19, the discipline and hard work of all team (athletes and officials), the enthusiastic cheering of the Vietnamese fans as well as the sports-loving spirit of the Vietnamese people."

"This is the first SEA Games I attended. I appreciated Vietnam’s organization. The 31st SEA Games took place in the context of the pandemic being brought under control after a long time of implementing strict epidemic prevention and control measures. However, Vietnam successfully hosted the 31st SEA Games beyond expectations."

Vietnamese people - best sports enthusiasts

Vietnamese people’s love for sports also impressed foreign friends. According to Mr. Neermal Shunmugam, Counsellor/Chargé d'Affaires, Embassy of Malaysia in Vietnam, Vietnam has one of the best sports enthusiasts in Asia and even the world. Their supporters showed immense respect to their national team and supported their players though thick and thin. From the uniform-colored shirts, face painting, chanting, and singing up till the end, the fans celebrated the success of the country on the street. The supporters have always been lively and excited with high spirit.

He added that Vietnamese fans are not result oriented. "It’s not about winning but it’s about supporting your team even if they lose a game. They love beautiful fighting spirit showed by their players during any matches. It is more important to them than winning a game. This is the beauty of Vietnamese supporters. The Vietnamese supporters gave proper respect to the opponent supporters and were very welcoming, which portrays a good sporting spirit and respect to each other," he said.

Agreeing with Mr. Neermal Shunmugam, Ms Chan Nyeint War, First Secretary of the Myanmar Embassy in Vietnam, said that Vietnamese sports fans’ spirit is very united and enthusiastic. “The happiest moment in Vietnam for me was on the night of 22 May. At that night, Vietnamese people shouted and celebrated in the streets as Vietnam successfully defended the SEA Games men's football gold medal and surpassed the record of gold medals. I also went out and encouraged shouting 'Vietnam is Champion',” she said.

For Mr. Jaya Ratnam, Singaporean Ambassador to Vietnam, he experienced first-hand the warmth and passion of Vietnamese fans, especially when it comes to their favourite sport, football! Competing in a venue full of cheering fans is every athlete’s dream. It is the culmination of all their hard work, dedication, and sacrifices to become the best athlete they could possibly be. More than half of Team Singapore’s contingent at this Games were SEA Games debutants who have never experienced the atmosphere of a crowded stadium before. “I am immensely grateful to Vietnamese sports fans for giving our athletes this special experience, and demonstrating sports’ unique ability to uplift spirits and bring communities together. With such strong support from your home fans, it’s no surprise that Vietnam was the top performer at this year’s Games, with the largest gold medal haul in SEA Games history! My heartiest congratulations to the Vietnamese contingent for this amazing achievement,” he said.

Timor Leste athlete Felisberto De Deus in the center of Vietnamese spectators (Photo: VOV) 

Participating in encouraging the Timor-Leste football team in the men's football qualifying round at the 31st SEA Games at the Viet Tri Stadium, Phu Tho province, Timor Leste Ambassador to Vietnam Maria Olandina Isabel Caeiro Alves observed that the stadium was always full of people, even when there were no Vietnamese athletes participating in the competition. The fans always try to convey energy to the athletes through songs and chants. “I am impressed with the sports-loving spirit of Vietnamese people,” she said.

Impressive Vietnamese country and culture

Not only being impressed by Vietnam’s successful organization of SEA Games and competition at the event as well as Vietnamese people’s love for sports, foreign friends also showed their impression and affection for the Vietnamese country and culture.

Mr. Neermal Shunmugam, Counsellor/Chargé d'Affaires, the Embassy of Malaysia in Vietnam, said that Vietnam is not only beautiful by nature, but also extremely interesting because of its history, culture, and people. In the eyes of foreigners, Vietnam is an attractive tourist destination. In addition to the beautiful nature and good food, foreigners often advise each other to travel in Vietnam because it is very rich in culture and history and still retains its very own characteristics representing Vietnamese culture.

On another aspect, Vietnam is an emerging economy and is one of the “rising stars” in Asia. Vietnam is also a country with cheap cost of living for foreigners compared to any other country in the world.

“I’ve always encouraged my family and friends to visit Vietnam. The country is relatively safe and tourist friendly,” he asserted.

For Ms Chan Nyeint War, First Secretary, the Myanmar Embassy in Vietnam, she always invites her family and friends to visit Vietnam and “I assume that Vietnam is my second home”. “I love Vietnamese as all people are friendly and open-minded. They are very honest and they never lie. The other reason why I invited them to visit is because Vietnam is a friendly and safe place to travel and full of many beautiful places,” she noted.

Meanwhile, Mr. Jaya Ratnam, Singaporean Ambassador to Vietnam, asserted a bright future for Vietnam – Singapore exchanges. “With the COVID-19 situation in both Singapore and Vietnam under control and borders between both countries reopened, without quarantine or testing requirements, I anticipate that flows of people between our countries will gradually return to pre-COVID-19 levels. Already, our Embassy has received some high-level visits, such as Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin’s official visit to Vietnam, visits by officials and businesses, as well as a surge of Singapore tourists visiting Vietnam. As Singapore and Vietnam celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and the 10th anniversary of our Strategic Partnership in 2023, the return to normalcy is timely. I look forward to more Vietnamese taking advantage of the relaxed border restrictions to visit Singapore as well,” he said.

Timor Leste Ambassador to Vietnam Maria Olandina Isabel Caeiro Alves said she was really attracted by the beauty and peacefulness of Vietnam, the friendliness, hospitality and kindness of Vietnamese people. “I will definitely introduce my friends and relatives to travel to Vietnam and if there is any opportunity to study and work in Vietnam, I would like my Timorese young people to participate,” she went on to say. “I appreciate Vietnam a lot, I like the people because they are friendly and hospitable, I am very impressed by tourism in this country and I admire the sporting spirit of the Vietnamese people.”

Phuong Huyen