Kingdom plans model SEA Games torch relay

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Minister of Tourism and CAMSOC permanent vice-president Thong Khon chaired a meeting to review the work of each of the specialist committees which are preparing for the SEA Games. CHHORN NORN

The Kingdom, through the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC), has expressed its intention to carry out the SEA Games torch relay through all of the ASEAN countries, and to organise the run to a standard higher than has previously been seen.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has already announced that the torch will officially be received at Angkor Wat, a sacred site. According to the plan, King Norodom Sihamoni will accept the torch directly, in one of the most important ceremonies ever staged in the Kingdom.

This was discussed during a recent weekly meeting chaired by Minister of Tourism and CAMSOC permanent vice-president Thong Khon to review the work of each of the specialist committees which are preparing for the games.

Khon, who is also president of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC), demanded that all parties involved pay the utmost attention to making this ceremony a model which other ASEAN nations will follow. Angkor Wat has been selected as it is a world heritage site of enormous fame and spiritual significance.

Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of CAMSOC, said: “We are tasked with making sure the torch ceremony is of the highest standards. [Khon] said the Covid-19 crisis had taken some of the luster away from the ceremony, and it is our role to restore it.”

“The acceptance of the torch is a very somber task. Angkor Wat is not just a holy site for Cambodia – all of the ASEAN countries recognise it as one of the most spiritual places on the planet. The fact that we have chosen such a site for the ceremony sends a message about the value we place on it,” he added.

He pointed out that the Kingdom must be very precise in preparing for the ceremony.

“It’s possible that if the ceremony goes as well as we hope it will, in the future, the SEA Games Federation may decree that each host nation must receive the torch from Angkor Wat, just as the Olympic torch is received from Mount Olympus,” he added.

The torch relay will depart Angkor Wat in early February next year, and will pass through each ASEAN member. At a July 11 SEA Games Federation meeting, all member nations promised to help support the relay in their respective countries.

Chamroeun, who is also NOCC secretary-general, said the full support of each ASEAN member is crucial.

“Because this is the first time that Cambodia has hosted the games, we want to run the torch through every one of the nations that will be competing here in 2023. This will inspire the people of the Kingdom and the region to get behind the event and make it a success. We intend to make a full lap of the Tonle Sap Lake as part of the relay. The relay will last from February 6 until May 5, the opening day of the 32nd SEA Games,” he added.