Vietnam SEA Games requested to increase reserve players in view of pandemic

Mar 19, 2022

Cambodia has suggested that the hosts of the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi look seriously into the option to increase reserve athletes for the various sports events.

The suggestion was mooted by several members including HE Vath Chamroeun, the secretary of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) during the ongoing SEA Games Chef de Mission meeting in Hanoi.

Chamroen, who is also the Chief Operating Officer of Cambodia SEA Games Organising Committee in 2023, said the revision to the existing rules was needed to tackle the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hanoi is set to host the SEA Games from 12-23 May with the concerns of the surge in new Covid-19 cases in the nation. Between May 5-18 alone, Vietnam has seen a spike in the number of new cases totaling a worrying 3,307,850.

While the Games itself is expected to be held under strict restrictions and under a bubble system, the chance of infection among the attending athletes and officials cannot be discounted.

To ensure that competitions, especially team sports, is not unduly affected by such possible conditions, Chamroeun has suggested that the Vietnam look into the possibility of teams naming additional players in their squads.

“One of the major concerns is related to Covid-19 issue especially for team sports such as football. Several members including Cambodia Many have suggested that teams should be allowed to name additional reserve players of there were to be any Covid-19 outbreaks during the Games,” said Chamroeun.

During the recent Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-23 Youth Championships in Cambodia, almost half the Vietnamese team itself were tested positive for Covid-19.

Ten out of 27 players in the team and two assistants were confirmed positive just one day after Vietnam thrashed Singapore 7-0 in their first group-stage battle at the tourney. More players were tested positive as the competition continued. The AFF agreed to allow teams to fly in additional players to replace those tested positive to keep the integrity of the competition intact. Vietnam went on to lift the coveted title, something it could not have achieved had such replacements were not allowed.

“If players who test positive during the SEA Games are not allowed to compete, it can surely affect the competition in all team sports. Based on the rules and regulations, for football for example, only four or five reserve players are allowed, and thus if many players test positive for Covid-19, it can drastically affect the performance of the team. By increasing the number of reserve players, we can have enough players to replace the unavailable players affected by Covid-19 and run a proper competition,”added Chamroeun.

He added that Vietnam has agreed to seriously consider the request and revert back with an amicable solution quickly.

“In addition to that, Vietnam has also received numerous suggestions in regards to the forty-odd sports included at this year’s SEA Games. Hopefully, Vietnam will not only set and adhere to the new Covid-19 regulations, but also come back with the right solutions,” said Chamroeun.

-- by Sophak Huy