HANOI: The curtain finally came down on the 31st SEA Games after a colourful and vibrant closing ceremony at the Hanoi Indoor Games Gymnasium here, tonight.
The ceremony started with musical and cultural performances, followed by the singing of Vietnam’s national anthem, ‘Doan Quan Viet-Nam Di’ (March to the Front).
The electrifying closing ceremony, powered by stunning light shows, was divided into three chapters - ‘My Hanoi, your love’, ‘Gathering’ and ‘Shining’ - to mark the rejuvenation of sports in the region after being halted since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was followed by a medley of songs, which was overseen by musical director Huy Tuan, about Hanoi, including Hanoi on a Windy Night, Fragrant Hanoi, Corner of Hanoi and October Hanoi performed by artists like Dong Hung, Khanh Linh, Bao Tram and Pham Anh Duy, while the choreography was by Duong Dinh Hai.
The contingents, seated in the arena, were greeted with loud cheers from the spectators as their respective national flags were carried inside in alphabetical order, starting with Brunei and followed by Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste and, lastly, hosts Vietnam.
After the parade of the mascots, referees and volunteers, the spectators were entertained with a video showing the highlights of the SEA Games action from May 6 till yesterday, though the biennial Games officially started only on May 12.
After the closing remarks by the 31st SEA Games Organising Committee and Vietnam Olympic Committee president Nguyen Van Hung, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh declared the Games officially closed.
The Games’ cauldron was then extinguished, paving the way for the Southeast Asian Games Federation (SEAGF) and the 31st SEA Games flags to be lowered, before the SEAGF flag was handed over to the hosts of the 32nd edition of the Games - Cambodia.
This was followed by a cultural performance from Cambodia, titled the ‘Aspara dance’, which is the symbol of the culture, soul and identity of the Khmer people.
Cambodia is set to host its first-ever SEA Games from May 5-17 next year, with 40 sports pencilled in on the initial list.
The grand finale by Vietnam for the night was the LED light dance show and the medley of Quan Ho folk songs, including Saying Goodbye, Inviting Betelnuts and Please Don’t Leave, performed by 100 folk artists of Bac Ninh.
While the Games ended with a flourish, the same cannot be said of Malaysia’s performance here as they finished sixth with 39 gold, 45 silvers and 90 bronzes, although that surpassed their 36-35-75 medal target.
Hosts Vietnam topped the medal chart with a massive 205-125-116 medal haul.
This is only the second time that Vietnam has hosted the SEA Games, with about 10,000 participants from 11 countries challenging for medals in a total of 525 events from 40 sports.
Vietnam last hosted the SEA Games in 2003. - Bernama