After two years of cancellation due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 7th “Khmer Empire Marathon” resumed this year in Siem Reap to much fanfare, in what an official said was a good sign for the recovery of domestic tourism.

Co-organised by the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC), the Ministry of Tourism and other partners, the August 7 event went smoothly and attracted 2,000 spectators.

“Tourism minister and NOCC president Thong Khon urged the NOCC and the ministry to diversify the sport to revive the sporting event at the same time as the economic and tourism recovery post Covid-19,” NOCC secretary-general Vath Chamroeun said.

Chamroeun added that in this stage, the ministry and the NOCC had set the goal of helping the economy recover through sporting events and tourism.

“Therefore, we did a lot of work and these past few days, we also held the Friendship of Mekong River Senior Football Tournament in the province with teams from four countries. Hence, [Khon] did his best to bring in as many tourists as possible,” he continued.

In a report, the event's organisers said 2,100 people from 40 countries had signed up to run in the 7th Khmer Empire Marathon 2022, including 50 to 60 foreign runners from abroad and about 300 foreign runners residing in Cambodia. In addition to that, Cambodian youths and athletes from across the country participated.

Chamroeun said that nearly 200 runners ran the full distance of 42,195m, while more than 300 runners completed the half-marathon distance of 21,097.5m. More than 1,000 runners finished the 10km run and 500 to 600 people ran a distance of 3km to show support for the charitable aims of the event.

“We see that the re-organisation of the sports and tourist events is a good sign and will help the recovery of tourism and revitalise domestic tourism. Because if we do not boost domestic tourism, it will be very difficult to improve the living standards of those in tourism-related businesses, as they are still facing problems. So we've paid a lot of attention to this,” he said.

He added that the government has allowed the ministry and the NOCC to organise a lot of major international sports events coming up. The ministry has also planned to hold additional marathons, cycling and other sporting events in the coastal province of Preah Sihanouk from the end of 2022 until next year when Cambodia hosts the 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games).

Chamroeun emphasised that from now on, Cambodia would strengthen the quality of organising its sporting events, especially for the safety of the runners, which is a necessary factor because the ministry wants them to run for fun and be safe and take pride in having competitors return for future events.

“We want to leave fond memories in the heart of the runners and make positive changes and have new developments in the Angkor area, where it will be a safe and green tourist destination. This is what we want to do in the future, so we want people to join us in promoting this sports tourism event for the goal of building the national economy and the reputation of our country abroad,” he said.