Thu, Dec 10, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Southeast Asian Games open with song, dance in Laos

AP AND AFP , VIENTIANE

Myanmar and Vietnam won two gold medals each at the Southeast Asian Games, as eight finals were decided before the formal opening of the event later yesterday.

Ya Min K-Khine, a 16-year-old from Myanmar, won individual gold in women’s taekwondo, while the country’s sepak takraw women’s team also won a gold. Myanmar also won two silvers and a bronze for a total of five medals to top the table.

Vietnam won two gold medals in taekwondo yesterday, one for men’s team and one for mixed pair.

Thailand, Laos, Philippines and Singapore have bagged one gold each so far.

The Games formally opened yesterday with a cultural extravaganza including dances and songs glorifying the traditions of the landlocked country of 6.8 million people.

LOCAL FLAVOR

The Southeast Asian Games has taken on more of a Southeast Asian flavor over the years, boosting the amount of sports peculiar to the region and popular with fans while downgrading traditional sports in which its nations are less globally competitive.

This year’s event has done away with cycling, basketball, gymnastics, hockey, rowing and weightlifting, while including or retaining dragon boat racing, wushu, Muay Thai, sepak takraw, pencak silat and go.

Athletics will have the biggest number of participants with 288, followed by soccer with 280 players. A total of 4,869 athletes will be vying for the 370 gold, 370 silver and 539 bronze medals on offer.

Taiwan is not competing in the Southeast Asian Games.

SINGAPORE PULLS OUT

Meanwhile, Games chiefs are searching for a new venue for the 2013 edition after Singapore said it would pull out of hosting the event, a report said.

Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper reported that Chris Chan, the country’s National Olympic Council’s secretary-general, on Monday told members of the SEA Games federation council Singapore would withdraw its rights to host the event.

The confirmation came at a meeting of the SEA Games executive committee on Tuesday.

According to the report, the Philippines, Myanmar and Vietnam have expressed an interest in hosting the 2013 Games, but a decision will not be made until next year, probably in April, when the council meets again.

Singapore’s decision to pull out of hosting the biennial event follows repeated delays to a S$1.87 billion (US$1.34 billion) Sports Hub, originally scheduled to be completed next year, the report said.

The facility, including a 55,000-seater National Stadium with a retractable roof, would have staged major sports such as swimming, athletics and soccer.

Reports said the project’s delays were because of high construction costs and the global economic downturn.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER

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