More than 600 athletes, coaches and officials took part in a ceremony to send off Vietnam 's 26th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games squad at Hanoi 's Opera House on Oct. 31.

The ceremony is traditionally held to boost athlete morale and confidence before the competition begins.

" Vietnam 's delegation is ready for the Games as they have trained hard at sports training centres nationwide," said head of the national squad Lam Quang Thanh.

The nation's sportsmen and women will compete in 36 events at the Games and do their utmost against powerhouses including Thailand , Malaysia , Singapore and the hosts to bag a target of at least 70 gold medals. The nation also aims to end the Games as one of the top three in the medal rankings.

"The team will play undauntedly to gain every gold medal with the highest disciplinary spirit," Thanh said.

One of the toughest tasks for Vietnam belongs to the men's under-23 football team in its quest for top honours. In addition, Vietnam hope to secure gold in 14 martial arts events, including karate, wushu, taekwondo and judo, and to compete strongly in chess, weightlifting, billiards and snooker.

"The team will obey the Games' regulations as well as raise their national pride," said Hoang Tuan Anh, minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism. "Through the event, the team will spread the image of Vietnamese people and a country that is very friendly, peaceful and hospitable."

The Games will be held in Indonesia from November 11 to 22, hosted jointly by Palembang (the capital city of South Sumatra ) and Jakarta (the capital city of Indonesia ) as co-host. Palembang will be staging 296 events, while Jakarta will be holding a total of 266 events.

Indonesia has already hosted the SEA Games three times, in 1979, 1987, and 1997, all hosted in Jakarta .

At the 25th SEA Games held in Laos two years ago, Vietnam won 83 gold, 75 silver and 57 bronze medals to rank second on the medal tally, just behind Thailand./.