BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Brunei has selected 10 athletes to take part in esports for the first time at the upcoming Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam.
Esports, or competitive video gaming, made its debut at the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines.
The sultanate will send 23 athletes to compete in four sports at the Hanoi Games, which was postponed from November 2021 to May 12-23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joining the Brunei gamers at the biennial meet are five karatedo athletes, four pencak silat players and four wushu exponents.
Brunei slashed the number of athletes competing at this year’s SEA Games, after 87 athletes contested in 14 sports in the previous edition.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports YB Dato Hj Aminuddin Ihsan Hj Abidin said the selection of athletes was “not easy” amid challenges arising from the pandemic.
“As we begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the strong commitment of the host nation to ensure the success of these games whilst safeguarding the well-being of all participants is a testament to these games as a source of lasting friendship and unity,” he added.
During the flag-handing over ceremony on Thursday, the minister said the government has hired full-time coaches for wushu, karate, taekwondo, swimming and fencing to develop and expand the pool of highly skilled athletes.
He further said the renovation of Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium, which is expected to be completed by mid-2022, will provide a more conducive environment for high-performance sports training, especially in martial arts.
YB Dato Hj Aminuddin called on all parties, especially the ministry, national sports associations, coaches and athletes to unite and work with the National Olympic Council of Brunei Darussalam to identify and develop sports talents.
HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, president of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council, handed over the national flag to the Brunei contingent chef de mission Hj Mohamad Rosfazilah Hj Yusly on Thursday.
In his sabda, HRH expressed confidence that the national athletes will continue to demonstrate good discipline and are aware of all regulations, especially anti-doping rules.
The 31st SEA Games will feature more than 5,000 athletes across 40 sports.