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Vietnam Sports Officials Accused of Attending Olympics in Place of Doctors, Coaches

While Vietnam is still basking in the glory of its first-ever gold medal – not to mention the other hardware picked up by shooter Hoang Xuan Vinh – some aren't happy with the country’s Olympic delegation.

Vietnamese sports officials have come under fire over the past few days as a result of their Olympic attendance. Online, netizens and media outlets criticized the Olympic delegation, arguing that too many sports officials attended Rio, occupying the limited number of places available for coaches, doctors and other support staff, reports VnExpress.

According to the news outlet, Vietnam sent 50 people to Rio for the Summer Games: 23 athletes and 27 additional staff, including coaches, doctors, experts and government officials. Among the 27 staff, Tran Duc Phan, head of Vietnam’s Olympic sports delegation, told VTC that 10 sports officials attended the event in addition to the delegation leader.

Meanwhile, judo athlete Van Ngoc Tu and badminton players Nguyen Tien Minh and Vu Thi Trang competed in their respective events without coaches. A total of three doctors were also sent to support and care for Vietnam’s 23 athletes. As a result, media outlets have alleged that the General Department of Sports robbed Vietnamese athletes of much-needed support staff.

Sports officials, however, were quick to deny the accusation, saying officials tagged along to learn from the event. Sports delegation leader Phan told VTC: “No one came to Rio to play.”

“Personally, I don’t think 10 staff following the team is that many,” he continued.

For her part, Vuong Bich Thang, general director of Vietnam’s General Department of Sports, told VnExpress the delegation was in Rio strictly on business.

“Saying [the officials] went to Brazil on a leisure trip is wrong," Thang told the news outlet. "Attending the Olympics is a tough job. They have to work very hard and be on their feet constantly.”

Regarding medical personnel, Phan also told VietnamNet that Vietnam usually arranges one doctor for every two athletes, however because Olympic officials only permitted Vietnam to send 16 coaches and 10 additional staff, his department had to make adjustments. In fact, this is the first time Vietnam has sent so many doctors, Phan informed the news outlet.

General Director Thang also supported this statement, telling VnExpress that her department prioritized certain sports over others in an effort to improve the country’s medal count.

[Photo via Tuoi Tre]

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