SEA Games to light up Hanoi after COVID-19 delay: AFP hinh anh 1SEA Games 31's flag-raising ceremony takes place at Hanoi's My Dinh National Stadium on May 11. (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – The 31st Southeast Asian Games will officially open in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi on May 12 after months of COVID-19 delay, reported AFP in a story entitled “SEA Games to light up Hanoi after COVID-19 delay” on May 10.

More than 5,000 athletes including Olympic champions are vying for more than 500 gold medals in the event, in what should be packed arenas, the French news agency said.

The 11-nation Games include traditional Olympic sports such as athletics, swimming and boxing, but also regional ones like sepak takraw, an eye-catching volleyball-style game where teams kick a rattan ball.

This 31st edition of the regional spectacular will be the first to feature xiangqi, also known as Chinese chess, which is wildly popular in the host country. Events retained from 2019 include e-sports, dancesport - a competitive form of ballroom dancing - and the ancient Uzbek wrestling art of kurash.

Organisers have though still added some local flavor as this year’s games will also see the return of Vietnamese martial art vovinam.

AFP quoted Games organising committee deputy head Tran Duc Phan as saying that "The hosts will have to fight as hard as other teams to earn golds against powerhouses, especially Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia." 

Thailand's taekwondo world number one Panipak Wongpattanakit and Philippine weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who both won gold at last year's Tokyo Olympics, are among the top athletes on display, the story said.

Singaporean swimmer Joseph Schooling, who won the city-state's historic first Olympic gold in 2016, also hopes to regain his scintillating past form, according to AFP./.