VIENTIANE – In the 25 sports to be played in the 25th SEA Games, a total of 4,869 athletes will vie for 370 gold, 370 silver and 539 bronze medals. Defending champions Thailand are sending the largest contingent of 842 competitors in their SEA Games squad, including 550 athletes and 292 officials. Second-largest is host Laos with 743 (482 athletes and 261 officials), followed by Vietnam (671), Malaysia (469), Indonesia (465), Philippines (413), Myanmar (400), Singapore (392), Cambodia (204), Brunei (79) and East Timor (77). Athletics is the most popular sport, with 288 athletes taking part, followed by football (280), shooting (169), sepak-takraw (167), swimming (140), karate (130), cycling (116), archery (114), badminton (114) and judo (101). The 25 sports also include aquatics, snooker & billiards, boxing, golf, table-tennis, taekwondo, tennis, volleyball, weighlifting, wushu, silat, petanque, shuttlecock, Muay Thai, fin swimming and wrestling. The SEA Games officially open on Wednesday, though the group stages of the football competitions began last week, and water polo has already finished.