Vietnam officials under fire for taking coaches' places in Rio Olympics

By Vuong Anh   August 15, 2016 | 05:00 am PT
Vietnam officials under fire for taking coaches' places in Rio Olympics
Vu Thanh An of Vietnam carries their flag in the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo by Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach
The officials are accused of capitalizing on their positions for a free trip to Brazil.

Vietnam’s General Department of Sports has been criticized over the last week for its choice of representatives in Vietnam's delegation at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil.

The attention has been focused on the absence of doctors and coaches for judo and badminton athletes within the Vietnamese delegation. Instead of reserving the limited number of spots for those who could assist the athletes’ performance, the department is accused of sending sports officials instead so they can "learn from the experience".

This issue has been raised on numerous occasions at previous Olympics and other sporting events, and has once again sparked controversy and frustration among the public.

Vuong Bich Thang, general director of the department, was adamant that the officials had not been sent to the Olympics on holiday; they were there to work, he said.

“Saying they (the officials) went to Brazil on a leisure trip is wrong," Thang said. "Attending the Olympics is a tough job. They have to work very hard and be on their feet constantly.”

Explaining the absence of coaches in certain sports, Thang said the department decided to prioritize key sports such as weightlifting and shooting.

“In shooting, we are supposed to send only one coach since we only have two athletes. However, we decided to send two because we had a good chance of winning medals.” Thang also said there were three doctors in the delegation, denying rumors that there were none.

Vietnam sent 50 people to the Rio Olympics: 23 athletes and 27 coaches, experts, officials and doctors. 

On August 8, Vietnamese shooter Hoang Xuan Vinh ended Vietnam's six-decade wait for a first Olympic gold medal by winning the 10m pistol, breaking the Olympic record in the process. The 41-year-old army colonel later bagged a silver medal in the 50m pistol event just four days later.

Vietnam had previously won two silver medals at past Olympic Games.

Related news:

> Vietnam shooter makes history with second Olympic medal

> Shooter secures Vietnam's first Olympic gold medal

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