Vovinam absent at 29th SEA Games

HÀ NỘI – The 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games will feature 38 sports and 405 events but it will not include vovinam (Việt Nam’s traditional martial art), according to a recent meeting of the hosts Malaysia and the SEA Games Federation (SEAGF).

Martial artists: Việt Nam’s vovinam team perform at the 27th SEA Games in Myanmar in 2013. – Photo tuoitre.vn

Vovinam was not included in the 28th Games in Singapore. However, it was featured at the 26th and 27th SEA Games.

At the meeting, SEAGF only added two events to the previous list of 403 events, with men’s and women’s quadrant (sepak takraw) bumping up the final number of events to 405.

“SEAGF Council has made its final decision on the sports and events to be featured in Kuala Lumpur 2017… it is my hope that come August 2017, Malaysia will be ready and able to put on a successful Games,” said SEAGF’s president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Jaafar at the meeting.

The final list featured 208 events for men’s competition, 177 for women and 20 mixed events.

Among the sports previously missing from the last Games in Singapore, but making an appearance in Malaysia next year are cricket, track cycling, futsal, ice hockey, ice skating, karate (kumite and kata), lawn bowl, muay and men’s weightlifting.

“According to the SEAGF’s regulation, the country hosting the SEA Games has the right to decide sports in the Games. Although vovinam is supported by Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos, it can’t be played in the 29th Games as the hosts Malaysia doesn’t play it,” said vice chairman of Việt Nam Olympic Council (VOC), Hoàng Vĩnh Giang.

“The VOC has campaigned Malaysia much but it didn’t succeed. At present, Malaysia hasn’t got an official vovinam federation,” Giang added.

So far, vovinam has been played in seven out of 11 countries in the region. Vovinam was popularised in Malaysia in 2011 but hasn’t developed fast.

Vice chairman of World Vovinam Federation and chairman of the Việt Nam Vovinam Federation, Lê Quốc Ân regrets that vovinam continues to be absent from the regional Games.

“This is a regrettable and worrying thing because if vovinam still isn’t included in other SEA Games, the vovinam movement in the region will be affected. Martial artists will not have many tournaments to compete in,” said Ân.

Ân said Việt Nam hopes vovinam will be played in the 30th Games to be hosted by the Philippines in 2019.

Vovinam was founded in 1938 in Hà Nội by late grand master Nguyễn Lộc.

It is practiced in around 40 countries and is popular in France, Italy and the US. – VNS