Five on Friday: 5 unusual sports in the limelight at the 31st SEA Games

SINGAPORE: After a one-year delay led to by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 SEA Games are lastly below approach in Vietnam.

While marquee sports like soccer, swimming, athletics and badminton will all the time entice the most eyeballs, one among the nice issues about the SEA Games is that it shines a highlight on area of interest, unheralded and downright unusual ones.

Some of the extra offbeat inclusions like underwater hockey and impediment course racing have sadly been dropped from this 12 months’s line-up, however there are nonetheless loads of alternatives to develop your sporting horizons over the subsequent 10 days.

Here’s what you may look ahead to:


Taekwondo, pencak silat, wushu and muay Thai are fixtures at the SEA Games, however not each Asian martial artwork will get its likelihood to shine usually at the occasion.

After near a decade in the wilderness, the Vietnamese martial artwork of vovinam will as soon as once more take centre stage in its nation of origin.

Combining the phrases “vo”, that means “martial arts”, and “vinam” for “Vietnam”, the sport was based in 1938 by Nguyen Loc, in accordance with the Vovinam-VietVoDao World Federation.

Nguyen had mixed the strengths of conventional wrestling and different Vietnamese martial arts and codified them in a brand new self-discipline.

A wide range of vovinam occasions with and with out weapons will likely be held at the Soc Son Gymnasium throughout this SEA Games. Some contain people separated by weight class, whereas others will see pairs compete.

And look out for occasions which characteristic assault and defence eventualities – the place a participant defends towards three others with weapons.

Vietnam is in fact a dominant drive in the sport, however they usually face eager competitors from Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia.


The 31st SEA Games is just the second time e-sports is a part of a medal occasion at a multi-sport competitors sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee. 

E-sports made its Games debut in 2019 with some critics questioning if it must be categorised as a “sport”.

But on the first day of the 2019 SEA Games, official e-sports companion Razer reported a couple of million views on its streaming platforms as followers logged in to look at gamers compete in video games equivalent to Dota 2 and Starcraft II. 

Host nation the Philippines dominated, strolling away with three gold medals, whereas Thailand bagged two gold medals.

This 12 months, there will likely be 10 video games performed, together with League of Legends: Wild Rift and Fifa Online 4. 

Catch them on YouTube and Facebook.


A sport that Singapore may need a hidden expertise pool to supply athletes from – judging from the crowds of exponents round Chinatown Complex, anyway – xiangqi will likely be making its SEA Games debut in Vietnam.

Also often called Chinese chess, xiangqi’s SEA Games bow will see women and men compete in singles occasions in addition to speedy and blitz group occasions, in accordance with the Singapore Xiangqi General Association.

Founded in 1934, the affiliation has despatched representatives to worldwide competitions for many years, so this chance has been a very long time coming.

But if xiangqi just isn’t your factor, concern not, Western chess will even be making an look in Vietnam. There’s one thing for everybody.


If you’ve ever watched swimming and thought to your self: This sport may gain advantage with some fins and snorkels.

Then finswimming is simply the factor for you.

While it might sound a bit unusual, common watchers of regional sport will comprehend it as a previous SEA Games occasion, and it’s lastly making its return to the line-up since Jakarta-Palembang in 2011.

Finswimming is break up into a number of classes, with some requiring the use of monofins – the ones resembling fish tails – and others seeing athletes don bifins or stereofins – these usually utilized by scuba divers.

According to the Olympic Council of Asia, there are floor races, “immersion” races that happen underwater with the assist of respiration equipment, and 50m apnoea races which might be accomplished by swimmers with out taking a breath.

Indonesia and Vietnam break up most of the golds between them 11 years in the past, with Thailand and the Philippines additionally getting in on the motion.

Aerobic gymnastics

You is perhaps acquainted with creative gymnastics (that’s the one with the vault, the bars, the steadiness beam and the pommel horse) and rhythmic gymnastics (the one with the ribbon, golf equipment, hoop and ball).

But there’s likelihood that you just’re having flashbacks of the Great Singapore Workout on seeing the time period “aerobic gymnastics”.

And you’d truly be considerably appropriate.

But that is no Zumba. According to ActiveSG, cardio gymnastics includes athletes performing high-intensity, advanced actions to music.

These strikes embrace quite a lot of jumps, kicks and shows of energy and suppleness that veer between the jaw-dropping to the straight-out-of-a-Nineteen Eighties-fitness-video.

Vietnam dominated the ground at the 2019 Games, and also you wouldn’t guess towards them attaining an identical feat this 12 months.

Aerobic gymnasts will compete in particular person, blended pair, trio and group occasions at the Quan Ngua Sports Palace.

Catch the 31st SEA Games Vietnam 2021 LIVE on meWATCH. Sign in now at and get into the motion with Mediacorp. Or catch highlights on Mediacorp Entertainment on YouTube.

Five on Friday: 5 unusual sports in the limelight at the 31st SEA Games

Kurt Ganapathy

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