BY: Michelle Liew
The 31st SEA Games officially ended with the torch of the games being extinguished, in a colourful and energetic closing ceremony at the Hanoi Indoor Games Gymnasium, yesterday.
The ceremony began with a musical and cultural performance, followed by the singing of the Vietnamese national anthem ‘Doan Quan Viet-Nam Di’.
The energetic closing ceremony, coloured by a spectacular light show, was divided into three parts – ‘My Hanoi, your love’, ‘Gathering’ and ‘Shining’ – to mark the resumption of sporting activities in the region, after a halt since March 2020 due to the pandemic COVID-19.
The ceremony saw a combination of songs arranged by music director Huy Tuan about Hanoi, including ‘Hanoi on a windy night’, ‘Fragant Hanoi’, ‘Corner of Hanoi’ and ‘October Hanoi’ performed by artists such as Dong Hung, Khanh Linh, Bao Tram and Pham Anh Duy, choreographed by Duong Dinh Hai.
The contingent of athletes sitting in the arena was greeted with cheers from the audience as the flags of their respective countries were brought in alphabetically starting with Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste and finally host Vietnam.
After the entry parade of mascots, referees and volunteers, spectators were presented with a video showing highlights of SEA Games action from May 6 until the last day, even though the biennial games officially began on May 12.
After the closing speech by the President of the 31st SEA Games Organizing Committee Nguyen Van Hung, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh declared the official closing of the games.
The tournament torch was then extinguished and the flags of the Southeast Asian Games Federation (SEAGF) and the 31st SEA Games were lowered, before the SEAGF flag was handed over to the host of the 32nd SEA Games Cambodia.
This was followed by a cultural performance from Cambodia called ‘Aspara dance’ – a symbol of the culture, soul and identity of the Khmer community.
Cambodia will host the SEA Games for the first time from 5 to 17 May next year, with 40 types of sports already named in the preliminary list.
The final performance of the night was a farewell performance by Vietnam with an LED dance and a combination of Quan Ho folk songs – recognized as heritage by UNESCO, including ‘Saying Goodbye’, ‘Inviting Betelnuts’, and ‘Please Don’t Leave’ sung by 100 local artists of Bac Ninh.
Malaysia finished sixth after winning 39 gold, 45 silver and 90 bronze medals, surpassing the 36-35-75 medal target, while the hosts topped the chart with a medal tally of 205-125-116.
This is the second time Vietnam has hosted the SEA Games, after the success of the 2003 edition, with about 10,000 participants from 11 countries competing to win medals in a total of 525 events from 40 sports.