Cambodia ‘ready’ for historic SEA Games: defence minister

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Defense Minister Tea Banh presides over a meeting to prepare for the kickoff the 100-day countdown to SEA GAMES on January 20. DEFENCE MINISTRY

Cambodia will begin the 100-day countdown to the 2023 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and ASEAN Para Games on January 25, as Minister of National Defence Tea Banh affirmed that the country is ready to host the biennial multi-sports extravaganza for the first time.

Tea Banh, who is also chairman of the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC), considers the countdown as the final opportunity for CAMSOC’s 14 sub-committees to strengthen their commitment to ensuring the games, scheduled for May, are a glorious success.

“The time when Cambodia will host the SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games is approaching. We are preparing for a 100-day countdown, so we must be ready to guarantee that our preparations are complete,” he said.

Tea Banh made the remarks while presiding over a meeting to review CAMSOC’s 2022 work and 2023 direction at the ministry on January 20.

“In the remaining 100 days, we need to ensure that all of our work is completed. Our 14 commissions and sub-committees are fully operational, so the remaining 100 days will be used to make sure we are ready to welcome the sports delegations that will participate in the games hosted by Cambodia for the first time,” he said.

He hailed Prime Minister Hun Sen’s recommendation for the 100-day countdown to the historic event, which Cambodia has been waiting 64 years to host. He also asked Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith, who is also vice-chairman of CAMSOC, to further promote television broadcasts of the countdown.

CAMSOC secretary-general Vath Chamroeun spoke to the assembled media after the January 20 meeting.

“[Tea Banh] informed the information minister that he should request all media – especially television stations – to spread the word about the campaign as much as possible. TV programmes should be shared as widely as possible, both domestically and internationally, to ensure the games receive the strongest support possible,” he said.

“This is a clear indication of Cambodia’s readiness to host the games. It sends a message to all countries in Southeast Asia and the world that the Kingdom is ready to offer a warm welcome to the international athletes and is prepared for this historic sporting event,” he added.

Tea Banh also encouraged the wider installation of the internet throughout the Kingdom for the duration of the competition, as it will be the key to promoting the events throughout the country and abroad. Without adequate internet access, coverage will not be effective, and it will be difficult to broadcast live from the games’ many venues.

Chamroeun confirmed that the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications has guaranteed that Wi-Fi devices will be widely deployed, along with mobile Wi-Fi vehicles to help increase coverage. All capital-provincial authorities, especially the provinces which are hosting events, are also planning campaigns to share the games more widely.

Tea Banh also advised that full media coverage of the upcoming SEA Games torch relay would help to increase the public’s support for the games.

“The successful relay will also serve to notify the world that Cambodia is ready,” he added.