Bokator, Cambodia’s traditional martial art, has been submitted for inclusion on the official sporting discipline list for the 2023 Phnom Penh Southeast Asian Games, with reports yesterday suggesting the inclusion was supported by Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar.
National Olympic Committee of Cambodia secretary general Vath Chamroeun told sources that Cambodia will dispatch coaches to ASEAN countries to train athletes, and from the year 2020, while the Cambodia Bokator Federation will hold ASEAN level competitions.
The resurgence of Bokator in recent years bodes well for the kingdom and is largely thanks to the work of the NOCC and San Kim Sean, renowned as the father of modern bokator and credited with reviving the art. Cambodia has long pursued the fighting styles’ inclusion on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
Bokator suffered greatly during the Khmer Rouge years, when many people who were proficient in traditional martial arts were systematically exterminated, fled as refugees or were forced into hiding. The martial art is also in line to gain UNESCO cultural-heritage status.
Cambodia is preparing to host the 32nd SEA Games in Phnom Penh and in some provinces including Kampot, Kep, Takeo, Siem Reap, Battambang, and Kampong Cham.
Construction for SEA Games-related projects started in April 2013 on a 94-hectare lot near National Road 5 in Russei Keo district on the northern outskirts of Phnom Penh.
The large sports complex under construction for the last four years in northern Phnom Penh includes a new multi-million dollar stadium which will form the centrepiece for 2023. It is estimated to cost about $200 million when completed.
The complex, when complete, will accommodate 100,000 people, while the main stadium will hold between 60,000 and 75,000 spectators. This is a marked increase from Cambodia’s current largest stadium – the Olympic Stadium, which was completed in 1964 and designed by the late Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann. Mr Molyvann originally designed the stadium for the 1963 Southeast Asian Peninsular Games, which is the original name of the SEA Games. The 1963 Games were, however, cancelled due to political problems.
Construction of the new main stadium is key to helping the kingdom meet the high international standards demanded for the SEA Games. The Chinese government had agreed to fund Phase 2 of the complex and finance its completion.
The committee anticipates that the sports complex will be completed in its entirety by 2020 or 2021.