The regional sporting event was scheduled to take place in Hanoi and 11 other locations in Vietnam from November 21 to December 2, but a devastating wave of COVID-19 which hit many of the provinces due to be hosting Games events forced the postponement.

The event will now run from May 12 to May 23 next year, according to a report on the Vietnam Olympic Committee website, citing a decision made by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam.

There had been concern over finding a suitable time in the sporting calendar for the rescheduled Games, but the new dates do not coincide with major global or regional sporting events, the report said.

Vietnam previously hosted the multi-sports competition in 2003. It has allocated a budget of around US$69 million for the Games.

The SEA Games are expected to attract nearly 20,000 participants, including about 7,000 athletes from 11 countries, according to state media.

As well as Olympic disciplines, sports are likely to include billiards and snooker, bodybuilding, chess, bowling and kurash, an ancient form of Uzbek wrestling.