Cambodian sports delegates and athletes on May 24 returned to the Kingdom with the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) flag, prompting a warm welcome and scenes of national pride at Phnom Penh International Airport.
Vath Chamroeun – secretary-general of both the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) and National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) – said that returning home alongside the medals was certainly an honour, but reserved special praise for the SEA Games flag. Previous hosts Vietnam had presented the flag to Cambodia in acknowledgement of the arrival of the biennial multi-sports event to the Kingdom, who will host it for the first time in history in 2023.
“The arrival of the flag in the Kingdom of Cambodia symbolises the arrival of the SEA Games. Let all Cambodians across the country join in and celebrate what this means to our nation,” he said.
NOCC president Thong Khon, CAMSOC president Tea Banh and its permanent vice-president Chamroeun received the flag – also referred to as the flag of the Southeast Asian Sports Federation – directly from their Vietnamese hosts at the closing ceremony of the 31st SEA Games in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi on May 23.
Following the arrival ceremony for the flag and the medal winners at 5:30pm, Khon, who is also the Minister of Tourism, and Chamroeun presented the flag to Tea Banh – also the Minster of National Defence – who led a celebratory motorcade. The procession left the airport and headed down Russian Federation Blvd towards the Independence Monument before returning to the NOCC headquarters.
The parading of the flag symbolises that the members of the SEA Games Federation Committee – which includes each ASEAN member country – have given Cambodia full rights to host the event for its 32nd Edition in 2023. At the historic event, the Kingdom aims to win more medals than at the recent Vietnam games, where Cambodian athletes won a total of 63 medals, including nine gold, 13 silver and 41 bronze medals.
Regarding the number of medals won in Vietnam, Chamroeun said: “At this SEA Games, the total number of medals we have won is 63. These 63 medals have made history and broken records. These results are in response to our expectations and the strategic plan we set ahead of the Vietnam games.
“If compared to the number of gold medals we brought home from the 2019 SEA Games, four, we can see a trend of improvement. With these increases in mind, we look forward to improving further and finding whole other level of success when we play hosts in 2023,” he added.