Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia 2023 SEA Games a ‘dream’ for boosting Kingdom’s sport legacy



Cambodia 2023 SEA Games a ‘dream’ for boosting Kingdom’s sport legacy

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodian athletes perform a march past during the official opening of the Morodok Techo National Sports Complex on Saturday. Hean Rangsey

Cambodia 2023 SEA Games a ‘dream’ for boosting Kingdom’s sport legacy

With Prime Minister Hun Sen having presided over the 502-day countdown ceremony on Saturday, the Kingdom’s chief sports administrator said Cambodia hosting the 2023 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and ASEAN Para Games was “a dream come true”.

Cambodia was one of the founders of the Southeast Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games Federation, the forerunner to the current regional sports body, and the Kingdom was to host the Games in 1963 before they were cancelled due to the political situation at the time.

With the Kingdom now enjoying stability and rapid development, “Sport: Live In Peace” was chosen as the slogan for the 2023 Cambodia Games to highlight how peace has been crucial for the Kingdom’s remarkable transformation.

Vath Chamroeun, the secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC), hailed the huge importance of Cambodia finally hosting the event 60 years later.

“The government’s focus had been on developing other key sectors such as education and health. But recently it was felt the time was right, and it was announced at the SEA Games Federation Council meeting in Singapore in 2015 that we would indeed host the SEA Games.

“By hosting these Games, it really awakens in people the importance of sport in developing a nation’s society and its economy, and what sport means for the legacy of a country.

“We have been waiting 64 years since becoming one of the six founding members of the regional sports body in 1959, so to finally have the chance to host the SEA Games is a dream come true, for me and for Cambodia,” said Chamroeun.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Secretary-general of the NOCC Vath Chamroeun. Heng Chivoan

Saturday’s event also served to inaugurate the 60,000-seat Morodok Techo National Sports Complex in Phnom Penh – built as the centrepiece of the Games – with some 8,000 athletes across 40 sports set to convene in the Kingdom to contest the 32nd edition. More than 2,000 para athletes are due to compete in the 12th ASEAN Para Games.

And Chamroeun – a former wrestler who represented Cambodia at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics – said it was essential to host events such as the SEA Games to grow sport in the Kingdom.

“For me, it has been a long-held dream to host the SEA Games. For smaller sporting countries like Cambodia, the way to really develop sport is to host events like the SEA Games.

“As a sportsman, I fully appreciate the value of sport and the benefits it brings to society, as well as the importance of hosting the Games in helping secure a bright future for the Kingdom’s sporting scene,” said Chamroeun.

Setting the stage

Chmroeun revealed that the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) has proposed two initiatives that will set the stage for future Games.

CAMSOC is calling for the members of the Southeast Asian Games Federation (SEAGF) to jointly compose a theme song to be used for the 2023 edition and beyond.

CAMSOC is also pushing SEAGF members to allow sales of SEA Games television broadcast rights starting from 2023 on a profit-sharing model between the host country, SEAGF and its members to ensure financial sustainability in organising the Games.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The Morodok Techo National Stadium is to be the centrepiece of the Games. Hean Rangsey

Chamroeun said that while Cambodia intends to add ITF taekwondo to the 2023 SEA Games programme, it is facing resistance from the SEAGF and even from countries outside the region.

The host country has traditionally been allowed to include new sports that would help with the medal tally, and being the second ranked country in the world at ITF taekwondo, he said Cambodia should be able to add the sport without “political” interference.

In the most recently held SEA Games in the Philippines in 2019, Cambodia came a respectable eighth, with 46 medals.

Chamroeun said he expected Cambodia to again be strong in petanque and martial arts such as taekwondo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, while the Kingdom’s footballers would be eager to go a step further.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The stadium held the 502-day countdown to the 2023 Games on Saturday. Hong Menea

“The Koupreys” made it to the semifinal bronze medal match with Myanmar but were cruelly denied a medal after losing 5-4 on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

While the Indonesia Sea Games represented Cambodia’s best medal haul since the 2013 edition in Myanmar, Chamroeun said the Kingdom’s sports bodies have been striving hard to improve on this strong performance.

“We have had special development programmes for training our athletes in place for the past four years to improve their capacity.

“With the countdown to the Games having begun, we are sending around 100 athletes across 12 sports to China for a year’s intensive training, while the focus on international competition has been strengthened to maximise our chances of medals.

“And with NOCC president and Minister of Tourism HE Dr Thong Khon having much experience in organising large events and being well versed in showcasing Cambodian hospitality, we are confident the 2023 Cambodia SEA Games will be a great success,” Chamroeun said.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has given the green light for anyone who contracts the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron mutation or any other variant to convalesce or receive treatment at home or in any other reasonable non-healthcare setting. The new decision supersedes a restriction on home care for

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa