The Ministry of Tourism and the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC), under the auspices of the Cambodian government, have organised the "Friendship of Mekong River Senior Football Tournament", which is taking place on August 4-7 at Siem Reap Stadium.

Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam are participating in the football tournament, with 21 senior players from Cambodia, 110 from Thailand and Lao, and 20 from Vietnam, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Tourism on August 3.

The Ministry of Tourism said the purpose of organising the sports tourism event was "to expand the rich tourism products and increase international cooperation in the countries along the Mekong River".

Sok Vanna, the director of the Department of Management of Sports and Tourism Services, told The Post on August 4 that the sports tourism event was established in collaboration with Thai, Lao and Vietnamese counterparts.

He acknowledged the importance of sporting events in enhancing ties between nations, with each party covering the trip themselves for the tournament.

"The organisation of these friendly football matches is to increase international cooperation between countries along the Mekong River – Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

"We see that the friendship between each country comes through playing sport, because sport lives through peace, and we cannot live without sport," Vanna said.

The Friendship of Mekong River Senior Football Tournament was also organised to promote tourism in the Siem Reap-Angkor area and spur tourism growth, he added.

It is also intended develop human resources in the field of sports tourism and attract the attention of national and international sports fans to enjoy Cambodia in celebration of the 2023 SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games the Kingdom will host next year.

"After reopening the country in November, we have promoted Cambodia as 'the Kingdom of Wonder', a warm and safe destination for clean, green tourism. So this event is designed to attract national and international visitors to visit Siem Reap and the Angkor Wat area.

"So the tournament is not focused on competing for any title, but rather friendly matches to entertain and strengthen the friendship between the Cambodian delegates and those from Thailand, Vietnam and Laos," Vanna said.

Meanwhile, the 7th Khmer Empire Marathon 2022 will be held around the Angkor Wat temple complex on the morning of August 7.

With more than a thousand runners set to take part, the event will promote the area and attract further numbers of national and international guests to Siem Reap.

Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of the NOCC and secretary of state at the Ministry of Tourism, emphasised the focus on sporting events in Siem Reap.

"The Cambodian government has permitted the Ministry of Tourism and the NOCC to organise sports events in the rainy season because it is the season of declining tourist numbers.

"So we have made efforts to revive domestic and foreign tourism, with each event bringing high value," Chamroeun said.