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King to launch National Games torch relay

Ven Rathavong / Khmer Times Share:
King Norodom Sihamoni will open the National Games. KT/Chor Sokunthea

King Norodom Sihamoni will hand over the ceremonial torch to runners to open the National Games in Phnom Penh on Friday.

The event, the second of its kind, will run until June 5.

However, Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday that weather conditions meant that there would be no paratrooper display this year.

“This time at the opening ceremony the King will give our athletes the flame and they will run in a torch relay carrying it to the Olympic Stadium,” Mr Hun Sen said yesterday at a graduation ceremony.

The torch event would be repeated for future national games and the Sea Games in 2023, he added.

The National Olympic Committee of Cambodia announced in February that King Sihamoni would hand over the torch at the Peace Palace to the runners.

“The games torch will be lit by King Sihamoni at the Royal Palace and carried in relay a short distance away to the main stadium, where Prime Minister Hun Sen is to light the cauldron by remote control with the press of a button,” it said. “This will then set off five specially made burning arrows that will light the flame.”

The NOCC plans to spend about $600,000 on the opening and closing ceremonies this year. About $400,000 was spent in 2016.

For the past few days, hundreds of performers appeared at Olympic Stadium to practice for the opening ceremony with various groups and athletes.

NOCC secretary-general Vath Chamroeun said the event would be spectacular, with high-tech performances.

There will be also cultural performances, acrobatics and demonstration sports like taekwondo and bokator martial arts. Five thousand performers will take part, he said.

Mr Chamroeun added that there would be technology-driven innovations such as laser beam shows and impressive firework displays.

A gold medal will now be rewarded with up to $200, up from the reported $37 during the 2016 games.

The 2016 games were heralded a resounding success, although there were murmurs of dissatisfaction over the paltry prize money dished out to medallists .

This year, more than 2,700 athletes from across the Kingdom will compete on behalf of their provinces in 15 sports in preparation for Cambodia hosting the SEA Games in 2023.

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