The 31st Southeast Asian Games will be hosted in 2022 in Hanoi, Vietnam, and 11 nearby provinces. The SEA Games take place biennially as a subregional division of the International Olympics. The SEA Games are one part of the Olympic Council of Asia alongside the Central Asian Games, the East Asian Youth Games, the South Asian Games, and the West Asian Games. Participants of the SEA Games currently include all eleven countries of the Southeast Asia geographical region: Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Up to 10,000 athletes are projected to compete in 40 sports and 526 events. Most of the 40 sports included in SEA Games 31 are those played at the Olympic Games, with the addition of events such as vovinam, Pencak silat, and wushu, the respective national martial arts of Vietnam, Indonesia, and China. Host countries of the SEA Games are allowed to remove or add sports and events to suit their own country’s strengths and weaknesses. This year, Vietnam pledged to host games that suit all participating countries’ strengths, removing no Olympic events at all, in order to make SEA Games 31 fair for all participants.
SEA Games 31 will mark a breakthrough for tourism in Vietnam as well as the entire Southeast Asia region. The event slogan “For a stronger Southeast Asia” is a declaration of solidarity for the ASEAN community as a whole and a point of pride for the regions’ rising identity on the international stage.
This year will mark the second time that Vietnam has hosted the SEA Games since the country first hosted SEA Games 22 in 2003. Hanoi will be the central location for the SEA Games in 2022, with satellite cities hosting other events and competitions. Hanoi will host 28 competitions at 18 venues, while Bac Ninh, Hai Duong, Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, Ha Nam, Nam Dinh, Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh, Vinh Phuc, Phu Tho, and Bac Giang will host the remainder.
The honor of hosting the SEA Games marks an important achievement in Vietnamese sports overall at a global level. . The country continues to progress as a regional leader in athletics. This year, Vietnam is considered a strong contender for gold medals in categories like fencing and both men’s and women's football.
In the 2019 SEA Games, Vietnam finished with 98 gold medals, 85 silver medals, and 105 bronze medals, achieving second place overall on the medal table, just behind the Philippines where the games were hosted. Since the SEA Games began in 1959, Vietnam has claimed 928 gold medals, 967 silver medals, and 991 bronze medals.
The SEA Games 31 were originally scheduled for November and December of 2021 but were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 31st SEA Games will now take place from 6 May to 23 May 2022 in Hanoi, Vietnam, and 11 other Vietnamese cities and provinces. The opening ceremony will be at 8 pm on May 12th at My Dinh Stadium. The events will finish at 8 pm on May 23rd at a closing ceremony at the Palace of Athletics in Hanoi.
Men’s football will take place from May 6 to May 22, while women’s football will compete between May 11 and May 21. All competition dates for sports like track-and-field, martial arts, volleyball, and basketball have been fixed.
Nearly all renovations and upgrades to infrastructure, event venues, and other facilities were completed by the March 15th deadline. A list of accommodation facilities was announced at a recent meeting between the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Transport.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has been working since September 2021 to prepare stadiums and accommodation facilities for the SEA Games 31. Some of these developments include the Gia Lam Gymnasium, the Hoai Duc Gymnasium, and the My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi. The GIa Lam Gymnasium will host the wrestling matches, while the Hoai Duc Gymnasium will host the Judo and Kurash contests. With its capacity of 40,000, My Dinh Stadium will host the SEA Games opening ceremony, the track and field events, and the semi-finals and finals of the SEA Games 31 football tournament.
Rather than building an athletes’ village, all athletes and participants will stay in hotels near the competition venues. In addition to preparing resources for athletes, renovations have been made to lighting, equipment, seats, LED screens, and facilities like press conference rooms to ensure the comfort and safety of all guests. The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism is working with localities and businesses to improve the quality of tourism facilities, preparing to welcome tourists back into the country for the first year since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Ensuring COVID-19 safety is a top priority of the Health Subcommittee. All athletes and officials will need to enter Vietnam with a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test and rapid test again within 24 hours of entry and before competing in their event. Spectators will not have to show a negative covid test to enter, but venue capacities will be determined by the real-time COVID-19 situation in each location.
Many hosting localities of the SEA Games 31 have been encouraged to offer free tickets to spectators in the spirit of solidarity and an effort to truly embody the event's slogan, “For a stronger Southeast Asia.”