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Alleged SEA Games Branding Designs Draw Criticism for Numerous Typos

The 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), set to take place in two months, have faced a number of hurdles since it was announced years ago.

In 2019, Vietnam approved Hanoi’s bid to host the next SEA Games, marking the second time the capital has organized the regional sports championship since 2003. Hanoi will share hosting duties with a number of nearby provinces.

Also known as SEA Games 2021, the event was due to take place last year, featuring 40 sports, 526 events, and over 10,000 participants. However, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on Southeast Asia last summer, so in July 2021, the Southeast Asian Games Federation decided to postpone the games to April or May of 2022.

Eventually, it was confirmed that SEA Games 2021 will take place in May, with the opening and closing ceremonies held on May 12 and 23, respectively, at Mỹ Đình Stadium in Hanoi.

With less than two months before the events begins, the SEA Games have been making the rounds on Vietnam’s cybersphere recently, though for all the wrong reasons. Snippets of the tournament’s branding elements have surfaced online over the past two days, with netizens picking apart the many flaws.

Apart from voicing their personal opinions regarding the use of color and the design style, many pointed out some glaring typographic errors in the mockups, including “cerfififate” (certificate), “athele” (athlete), and “venus” (venues). Another point of contention is the “st” portion of the text “31st SEA Games Viet Nam 2021” in the official logo, which seems to have a different typeface compared to the other letters.

At the time of writing, Saigoneer was able to independently verify that these inaccuracies exist in a file obtained from the website of the Vietnam Sports Administration. However, the uploaded file was last modified on March 7, so it is possible that the spelling mistakes and font inconsistency have been fixed since then.

After the branding images went viral on Facebook, the information and communication subcommittee of SEA Games 31 issued an official statement saying that the comments regarding the event’s brand identity package are “subjective, one-sided, and malicious opinions by a group of individuals on social media.” The committee added that it would collaborate with government cybersecurity agencies to deal with those who propagated such opinions.

In an interview with Lao Động newspaper, an unnamed representative from the Vietnam Sports Administration said regarding the alleged errors: “These are all incorrect information. Maybe those are from a draft and not a final version, we don’t know where they [the images] come from.”

The representative added that the SEA Games organizing committee has only released official information regarding the theme song, logo, and competing sports.

“Of course, the organizer and other subcommittees will send instructions to localities on how to decorate and arrange their facilities via internal publications, but really there isn’t any approved design with such inaccuracies,” the representative explained in Vietnamese. “At the moment, the communication subcommittee and other related entities are verifying information published online.”

This is not the first time that the SEA Games 31 sparked a furor online when it comes to design. After the official mascot, which was inspired by the endangered sao la, was unveiled in 2020, it ignited a barrage of criticisms, so much so that a challenge among local designers and illustrations was started to give the mascot a makeover.

[Top image via Báo Chính Phủ

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