Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games): Which country has won the most medals?

The Southeast Asian Games, commonly referred to as the SEA Games, is a biennial multi-sport competition that brings together participants from 11 present-day Southeast Asian nations. The event operates under the governance of the Southeast Asian Games Federation and is overseen by both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA). 

As one of the five subregional Games within the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the SEA Games hold a significant place in the sporting landscape. Initially, six countries established the event, including Burma (currently Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, Malaya (now Malaysia), Thailand, and the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).

History of the SEA Games

The Southeast Asian Games, also known as the SEA Games, were initially established as the SouthEast Asian Peninsular Games, or SEAP Games. During the Asian Games in Tokyo, Japan on May 22, 1958, representatives from the Southeast Asian Peninsula convened to agree on the formation of a regional sports organization. Luang Sukhum Nayapradit, who was serving as the vice president of the Thailand Olympic Committee at the time, proposed the SEAP Games with the intention of fostering cooperation and unity among Southeast Asian countries through sports.

The initial member countries decided to organize the Games every two years, beginning in June 1959. This led to the creation of the SEAP Games Federation Committee. The inaugural SEAP Games took place in Bangkok and lasted from December 12 to December 17, 1959. The games saw the participation of over 527 athletes and officials from six countries – Burma (now Myanmar), Laos, Malaya, Singapore, South Vietnam, and Thailand, who competed in 12 different sports.

In 1975, during the eighth SEAP Games, the federation discussed the possibility of adding Brunei, Indonesia, and the Philippines to the competition. These countries were formally included in 1977. The same year the SEAP Federation rebranded itself to the Southeast Asian Games Federation (SEAGF), while the games were subsequently known as the Southeast Asian Games.

Countries at the SEA Games

Malaysia competed as Malaya in the first edition of the SEA Games till 1961. Myanmar marked its participation as Burma until 1987. While previously Cambodia took part in the games with the names – Kampuchea and Khmer Republic. The medalists for North and South Vietnam have been combined. The most successful athlete at the SEA Games is Singapore’s Joscelin Yeo who has won a whopping total of 55 medals – 40 gold, 12 silver, and 3 bronze medals in Swimming. Before this, another swimmer Patricia Chan from Singapore held the unique accomplishment of winning 39 gold medals at the games.

According to data collected from the Olympic Council of Asia and other reliable sites, Thailand has collected the maximum number of medals at the championships with a mammoth 6472 medals in the competitions’ history. While Indonesia (1893 golds) and Malaysia (1342 golds) are placed second and third on the medal table with 5550 and 4435 medals, respectively. Vietnam (3232) and the Philippines (3181) currently occupy the fourth and fifth positions, thus becoming the top five nations at the prestigious SEA Games.

Which country has won the most medals in the SEA Games?

1Thailand (THA)2345203120966472
2Indonesia (INA)1893179618615550
3Malaysia (MAS)1342131817754435
4Vietnam (VIE)113399211073232
5Philippines (PHI)112212607993181
6Singapore (SGP)1094104814363578
7Myanmar (MYA)67375910272459
8Cambodia (CAM)114128299541
9Laos (LAO)81100352533
10Brunei (BRU)1556164235
11East Timor (TLS)593145

(It is important to note that the Southeast Asian Games 2023 medal tally hasn’t been added.)

More Stats –
1) Athletics Stats: Indian national record holders in track & field events
2) Hockey Stats: Which country has won the highest Men’s Asian Champions Trophy titles?
3) Asians who have won the Orleans Masters Badminton Tournament
4) Wrestling Stats: Countries that have won the Asian Wrestling Championships year-wise