ESPORTS will officially return to the SEA Games, claim two reports from Vietnam.
Vietnamese publication Saigon Giai Phong Online reported this development in an article posted on October 12, 2020.
Translated into English via Google Translate, this report, which was entitled "SEA Games 31 has 4 more competitions", claimed that Vietnam had agreed to put four sports — bowling, jiu jitsu, triathlon and esports (original: thể thao ?'iện tử, or electronic sports) — into the lineup.
"The official decision will be approved and announced by the Regional Sports Council in an important online meeting to be held in November, the host country of Vietnam," it continued.
Two days later, an English language article by the Vietnam Express International echoed the same information: that the Southeast Asian Games Federation Executive Committee has approved the inclusion of esports in the 2021 Southeast Asian Games to be held in Vietnam.
The report said that the committee will make a formal announcement by November.
The Vietnam Express International also mentioned that jiu jitsu, bowling, and triathlon made the cut.
According to the report: “Duong Vi Khoa, vice president of the Vietnam Recreational Esport Association and head of the Vietnam Esport delegation to the last SEA Games in the Philippines last year, has already said Dota 2, Arena of Valor and Pro Evolution Soccer will be three of the six games to be played at the games.”
On October 12, Duong Vi Khoa reposted a screenshot of the Saigon Giai Phong Online article in his public Facebook page, and said (in Vietnamese): "Esports has been officially included in the 31st SEA Games, comrades."
Reaching out to multiple sources, Spin.ph has been unable to independently verify this information.
UPDATE, October 15, 3:16 p.m.: Tweets from One Sports'
Philip Martin Matel and the Philippine Star's Joey Villar have confirmed that esports, triathlon, bowling, and jiu jitsu have been slotted into next year's SEA Games.
In the 2019 SEA Games held last December — the first time esports appeared in the regional competition — the Philippine contingent won a total of five medals, including three golds.
Over the past few months, various stakeholders have spoken to Spin.ph about the intense lobbying done to ensure esports returns to the SEA Games lineup. As recently as July, Vietnam had considered dropping esports and other events from the lineup, reportedly because of the financial pressures brought on by COVID-19.
Speaking to SPIN Life on September, David Tse, global esports director of Razer, said that the "unified efforts" of regional esports federations "have definitely brought [it] up for consideration during the meeting held by the organizing committee on 21st July."
Tse added: "We are very hopeful for esports to be once again included in SEA Games."