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Vietnam to consider rare mammal saola as 2021 SEA Games mascot

Saturday, September 26, 2020, 14:16 GMT+7
Vietnam to consider rare mammal saola as 2021 SEA Games mascot
The design of the endangered species saola pending the approval to become the official mascot of the 2021 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to be organized in Vietnam. Photo: Vietnam Sports Administration

Vietnamese organizers of the 2021 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games are expected to decide on the official mascot for the region's largest sporting event next week, with a design of the endangered species saola being the favorite.

The SEA Games are a biennial event governed by the Southeast Asian Games Federation under the supervision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Council of Asia.

The first edition of the event was held in 1959 and it has since grown to be one of the region’s largest sporting events, hosting athletes from 11 countries in Southeast Asia.

Next year’s SEA Games, the 31st edition of the event, is set to be organized in Vietnam from November 21 to December 2 and will feature some 36 to 40 sports, mainly those played at the Olympic Games.

This will be the second time Vietnam has won the right to host the Games, following the first time in 2003.

On August 30, 2019, the Vietnam Sports Administration and the Vietnam Olympic Committee launched a nationwide contest to look for design ideas for the 2021 SEA Games' official logo, mascot, slogan, and song.

Eventually, the design of a saola, one of the rarest large mammals on Earth and a forest-dwelling bovine found only in the Annamite Range of Vietnam and Laos, beat 556 other submissions to claim the first prize of the competition.

However, an official announcement on the mascot has been pending as the winning design faced mixed opinions from the public.

Earlier this month, a refined version of the contest-winning saola design was proposed for a final decision to be made at the upcoming conference of the Vietnamese SEA Games Organizing Committee (SEAGOC) on September 29, 2020.

If approved, the saola design will become the official mascot of the 2021 SEA Games.

The design of the combined images of a bird and a human hand to create the V shape pending the approval to become the official logo of the 2021 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to be organized in Vietnam. Photo: Vietnam Sports Administration
The design of the combined images of a bird and a human hand to create the V shape pending the approval to become the official logo of the 2021 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to be organized in Vietnam. Photo: Vietnam Sports Administration

“Choosing the mascot [for SEA Games] attracts wide attention from the public where everyone has their own opinion so compliments and disapprovals are very normal,” said a former member of the 2003 SEAGOC.

“In 2003, when the SEA Games was first held in Vietnam, there were many people criticizing the golden water buffalo mascot,” the member added, referring to the official ‘Trau Vang’ mascot of the 2003 Games which represents the culture of wet rice civilization in Vietnam, as well as in other Southeast Asian countries.

A logo inspired by the combined images of a bird and a human hand to create the V shape, representing “victory” and “Vietnam,” has also been proposed for consideration.

Meanwhile, there is no clear popular nominee for the official theme song for the 2021 SEA Games.

A song titled 'Cung khac ten minh vao nui song' (Let's carve our name into mountains and rivers) received the consolation prize in the aforementioned contest, but contest organizers said they could not find better-composed submissions for higher prizes.

At the same time, the SEAGOC has commissioned composer Quang Vinh, who composed the theme song of the 2003 SEA Games in Vietnam, to produce a song for next year’s event.

It remains unclear whether 'Cung khac ten minh vao nui song' or Vinh’s song will be put forward for the SEAGOC’s approval of the Games' official theme song.

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