PHNOM PENH- After a very long wait, Cambodia finally gets to realize its long-cherished dream of hosting the Southeast Asian Games.
And during the opening ceremony held on Friday (May 5) at the new Morodok Techo National Sports Complex in the capital Phnom Penh the country gave an impressive spectacle for the 60,000 people who flocked to the stadium.
“Cambodia waited for 64 years to host the SEA Games and today that dream has finally come true,” Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Tea Banh said during his speech at the ceremony.
Banh who is also the chairman of the Cambodian SEA Games Organizing Committee, attributed the country’s successful bid to host the SEA Games to the sustained peace in the country that began with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Win-Win Policy in 1998.
The peace policy ensured the Khmer Rouge combatants’ “life, career, and ownership” after they surrendered, ultimately bringing an end to the civil war and ushering in an era of peace and national unity.
The opening show during the late afternoon featured several performances by Cambodian musicians, singers, dancers, and comedians.
The highlight of the program was a 45-minute choreographed presentation titled “Cambodian Journey” which narrated the history of Cambodia from its mythical founding, the glorious age of the Khmer Empire, the Win-Win solution, and the present climate of peace and economic stability.
Gracing the opening ceremony were Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, President Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos, International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president Ng Ser Miang, and Dr. Thong Khon, SEA Games Federation Council Chairman.
Dr. Thong Khon expressed his gratitude to the Cambodian government for providing free logistics, food and accommodation arrangements, free broadcasting rights, and free tickets during the games.
“These precious gifts are recorded in the Southeast Asian Games historical records,” Dr. Kohn said of the country’s kindness and generosity.
The 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia will run until May 17 with 10,890 athletes and officials partaking in the 579 events across 36 sports.
Cambodia was said to have spent around $300 million for the hosting which included the construction of the $160 million Morodok Techo National Sports Complex made possible through a financial grant from China.
The biennial games with the theme "Sports: Live in Peace" has 11 participating nations; Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Philippines, Laos, Indonesia, Myanmar and Timor Leste.
The 32nd SEA Games’ torch which was first lit by King Norodom Sihamoni last March 21 at the Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap Province culminated with the lighting of the cauldron during the opening ceremony and capped by an impressive fireworks display. (PIA/RG Alama)