Cambodia ready for SEA Games opening ceremony

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodia’s SEA Games chief of mission Vath Chamroeun speaks to reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport on Tuesday before flying to Vietnam to join the opening ceremony of the 31st SEA Games. CAMSOC

The Kingdom’s SEA Games chief of mission Vath Chamroeun considers the participation of Cambodian athletes and delegates in the biennial regional multi-sport event a strategic opportunity to study and analyse the preparations of hosts Vietnam – as well as to compete for medals for the nation and test the abilities of the national team – ahead of the event being held in Phnom Penh for the first time next year.

Chamroeun, who is also secretary-general of the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC), made the remarks while leading the second group of Cambodian athletes and delegates to the Vietnamese capital Hanoi to attend the official opening ceremony of the 31st SEA Games on May 12. The delegation will also attend the closing ceremony on May 23.

“Participating in this competition is a strategic opportunity to analyse both the results of the events and the technical aspects of Vietnam’s organisation as host,” he said before departing from Phnom Penh International Airport with 120 athletes and delegates.

“We have two important duties. The first is to participate in the competition and get good results for our motherland – especially the Cambodians who will be watching across the country – and we have to strive for better results,” he added.

“This is also an opportunity for CAMSOC to learn, gain experience and see with their own eyes how the games is organised. We will use this as a benchmark for our own hosting plans next year. We will find and isolate our weaknesses – then improve them. We may see some ideas in Vietnam that we might want to implement at home in 2023.”

Chamroeun, who also serves as secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, said one more important mission would be accomplished on this trip – receiving the SEA Games flag, which symbolises the Kingdom’s responsibilities as next years’ host.

“Our delegates – led by CAMSOC president [defence minister] Tea Banh and vice-president [tourism minister] Thong Khon – will receive the SEA Games flag from Vietnam on the closing day of the games. The competition ends on May 23 and during the closing ceremony, there will be cultural performances to welcome the SEA Games to Cambodia,” he added.

According to the official delegates list seen by The Post on April 19, Cambodia will compete in 33 sports at this year’s SEA Games with a total of 550 delegates.

The Kingdom is sending 237 male and 126 female athletes, 93 coaches or assistant coaches and 19 medics. Sixteen referees and 35 sports officials are joining the trip – along with 22 chairman or secretary-generals of specific sporting bodies. Four members of the Cambodian Anti-Doping Agency will accompany the team.

The event is underway in Hanoi today after a six-month Covid delay – with Southeast Asian pride at stake in everything from football to bodybuilding and eSports.

More than 5,000 athletes, including Olympic champions, are vying for over 500 gold medals in the event, in what should be packed arenas.

The 11-nation Games include traditional Olympic sports such as athletics, swimming and boxing, but also regional ones like sepak takraw, an eye-catching volleyball-style game where teams kick a rattan ball.