Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that Cambodia intends to host the 32nd Phnom Penh SEA Games in May 2023 citing a desire to avoid clashes with elections due to take place later that year.
The PM made the comments at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway on Friday. Co-chairing the event was Chinese vice-minister of Foreign Affairs Kong Xuanyou.
“We will host SEA Games in May 2023 before the elections, said the Prime Minister. “We do so for better organisation before election [season].”
The Premier added that the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway, which is scheduled for completion by March 2023, will serve a vital role in ferrying athletes and spectators to the coast for watersport activities and competitions.
The government has committed to spending approximately $400 million to organise the games with Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) tasked with planning the regional sporting spectacle.
In a meeting earlier this month, CAMSOC said it had created 15 sub-committees to carry out its work effectively. The meeting was also attended by senior leaders of CAMSOC including Dr. Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism and Chairman of the NOCC.
Cambodia is preparing to also host some sporting competitions in 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 in northern Phnom Penh includes a new multi-million dollar stadium – dubbed the Morodok Techo National 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 – the original name of the SEA Games. Cambodia failed to organise the SEA Games in 1963 due to political issues with Thailand over the disputed Preah Vihear temple.
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 2019 SEA Games will take place later this year in Manila, in the Philippines.