People’s support X-factor in Vietnam’s SEA Games success

By Lam Thoa   May 23, 2022 | 06:00 am PT
People’s support X-factor in Vietnam’s SEA Games success
Fans watch the SEA Games men's football final between Vietnam and Thailand from a big screen at Nguyen Hue walking street in HCMC, May 22, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
The overwhelming support shown by Vietnamese people has been the secret ingredient in Vietnam’s record-breaking SEA Games gold medal tally, says the head of the national contingent.

Tran Duc Phan, head of the Vietnamese sports delegation at SEA Games 31, said Monday that the most impressive thing about the event this year was the support of the people.

"Stadiums were chock-full of people. Many stadiums couldn’t allow more people in as they were overloaded. There were matches at the Thien Truong Stadium in Nam Dinh where so many people showed up even for foreign matches that they had to stop letting people in. We were very surprised to see so many people coming. Sport has truly become a part of the Vietnamese people’s life," he said at a press meet.

He also commented on the "surprising" fact that while Vietnam only aimed to get 140 gold medals, they won 205, breaking the previous record of 194 held by Indonesia in 1997.

"Many athletes shone when they entered the Games... Vietnam’s advantage was to be able to fight on our own turf, backed with our audience. Many fans came to watch and cheer on the athletes, including parents and family members from faraway places. That’s why they performed better."

Phan also stressed that the athletes’ achievements were entirely their own and not due to any outside influence.

"There was no sports delegation that left the meetings upset. They all considered Vietnam successful, both in the organizational and technical aspects. There was just this one time when Indonesia complained about the referee during a pencak silat match against Malaysia. I told them that the referees and officials were all international; none of them were from Vietnam."

Vietnam ended their SEA Games 31 run with a much-anticipated men’s football gold Sunday night, achieving the record-breaking tally of 205 gold medals. Vietnamese woman also snatched the football gold Saturday night.

Thailand finished second in the table with 92 golds, followed by Indonesia with 69.

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