Vietnam is expected to send a 900-member sports delegation to the 2023 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Cambodia next month, leaving some 100 others home in an unexpected cutback.
The nation originally planned to dispatch a contingent of 1,018 athletes, coaches, and staff members to Cambodia to compete in 31 out of 37 sports at the biennial event, targeting a top-three finish with 90-120 gold medals.
Cambodia announced plans to organize the SEA Games in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap Province, Preah Sihanouk Province, Kampot Province, and Kep Province from May 5 to 17.
However, many Vietnamese athletes and coaches told Tuoi Tre (Youth) on Sunday that they are likely to watch the biggest regional sports festival from their home TVs this year.
The sudden news came after the Vietnam Sports Administration held an urgent meeting last week to review the Cambodia-bound delegation for a cutback.
“As per an urgent instruction, the list of the Vietnamese sports delegation will have to be shortened to about 900 people from 1,018 members because of insufficient funding,” an official told Tuoi Tre.
The downsizing will force athletes with inferior performance results to stay home, according to the official.
Tran Duc Phan, the appointed head of the delegation, said that the reduction is expected to include about 30 athletes, bringing the total number down to 714 sportspersons.
Phan added that the Vietnam Sports Administration has not yet submitted the final list of delegates to the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, which will make the final decision.
Athletes who are cut off from the list can still stand a chance to participate in the 2023 SEA Games in Cambodia if they secure financial support from their local authorities or the national federation of their sport.
This chance, however, is quite slim, given the short time left, tight budgets of local authorities, and inefficient operation of sports federations.
Vietnam sent a delegation of 856 members to the Philippines to attend the 2019 SEA Games while its contingent participating in the delayed 2021 edition in May 2022, when it was the host country, consisted of 951 athletes, 250 coaches, 30 experts, and 46 team managers.
Vietnam ranked first in the medal standings in 2022 with 205 gold, 125 silver, and 116 bronze medals, setting a new gold medal record in the biennial event’s history.