Cambodia is less than 300 days away from hosting the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) for the first time in the 60-plus years since the country first began participating in the biennial multi-sport event, along with the 12th ASEAN Para Games.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said the Kingdom’s ambition is to provide a warm and welcoming hospitality and service environment for all of the delegations of athletes from other nations and their fans.
He also suggested that the small school vacation be extended next year to allow students to attend the games both as spectators and as volunteers.
Hun Sen made the remarks on July 11 during a ASEAN Para Sports Federation and SEA Games Federation Council Meeting, saying that Cambodia has been waiting to host the events for 64 years after missing out on hosting the games on many prior occasions.
The SEA Games were first held in Bangkok in 1959. Cambodia began its participation in the second edition of the Games held in Yangon, the largest city of Myanmar, then Burma, in 1961. The Kingdom was actually awarded the 1963 Games but had to cancel them due to the domestic political situation.
Now, however, the Kingdom is well-prepared for its hosting duties and intent on mobilising the necessary resources to successfully host both the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, according to the premier.
“As the host country, Cambodia’s ambitions are to warmly welcome domestic and international guests with the best hospitality and service so that all of the delegations of athletes and all of our guests can enjoy themselves and have a good experience participating in the SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games in Cambodia,” he said.
He said Cambodia stands firmly determined to defend the principles of peaceful coexistence and equal rights in order to jointly solve all challenges that may eventually come to the region with the goal of guaranteeing peace, harmony and comprehensive partnerships in order to expedite development for the sake of shared prosperity.
The Kingdom will host the 2023 SEA Games from May 5-17 and ASEAN Para Games from June 3-9, organised under the motto of “Sport: Live In Peace”.
Hun Sen reiterated that there are no true “international standards” except in sports, because all of the people involved have to respect the rules and the goal of athletic competitions. That goal, he said, was to build a better world by contributing to peace and social stability.
With the event still nearly 300 days from now, he told the SEA Games and ASEAN Para Game organising committee to begin readying all aspects of the events and also suggested that the “small vacation” for schools be delayed.
“I advise the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to look into the feasibility of delaying the start of the small vacation for schools during Khmer New Year until May 18 to allow students to volunteer at the sporting events and to cheer on the Cambodian and international athletes,” he said.
He also called for support in all forms from all sectors of society to help make the 2023 SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games successful events.
Asked about Hun Sen’s suggestions regarding the rescheduling or extending of the small vacation for schools, education ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha told The Post that officials at the ministry are now discussing the matter and will provide more information in the near future.
Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh – in his capacity as chairman of the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – said that from today onwards, Cambodia will be very busy preparing to host the games and during this period, more infrastructures will be built, especially at the main venue of Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh.
He also said that Cambodia will strengthen its athletes to make sure they perform well at the games.
“The government has delegated these most important duties to CAMSOC and given it the responsibility of organising the details. This is an important and unprecedented opportunity for Cambodia to build its national reputation and its prestige through these sporting events.
“As the host, Cambodia has been preparing to hospitably welcome sports delegations from all of the countries involved. We hope that our hosting of the games in 2023 will be successful,” he said.