With the Jakarta-Palembang 18th Asian Games 2018 now a little over 10 days away, Cambodia’s Asian Games delegation met with Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Peace Palace here yesterday where they received his customary words of encouragement.
“I wish to thank the coaches who help to train our athletes and also to the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, said the Cambodian Premier to approximately 71 athletes, coaches and delegates in attendance. “Not just them but all those others who contributed to pushing sport forward in Cambodia.”
The Prime Minister praised athletes who represented Cambodia in international competition. However, he warned them away from the use of all prohibited substances, doping and performance-enhancing drugs, reiterating that athletes must respect the rules and regulations of the sporting competition.
“Winning is important but most importantly they must abide by the rules of the sporting committee, advised the PM. “Especially avoid the use of substances. Athletes should take care not to lose to much weight in competition. Because too much weight loss can hurt health.”
At the Incheon Asian Games in 2014, Yi Sophany, an 18-year-old Cambodian soft tennis athlete, was dismissed after she tested positive for a banned stimulant.
Sophany’s pre-competition sample had tested positive for the banned substance Sibutramine – an appetite suppressant found in numerous dietary supplements.
Ms Sophany believed that Sting, an energy drink popular in Cambodia, was to blame after conceding she drank up to four cans a day.
The Premier also lavished cash gifts to all 71 athletes, coaches, and delegates to the Asian Games totalling $35,500.
Showering both money into sporting development in Cambodia has been a feature of the Prime Ministers recent leadership. In 2017, he received an International Olympic Committee award in recognition of his efforts to encourage sport.
A monument to the government’s commitment to the development of sport is the Morodok Techo Sports Complex on the northern outskirts of Phnom Penh.
Built in preparedness for the Phnom Penh SEA Games in 2023, phase 1 was completed last April and forms part of a larger sports complex under construction for the last five years.
A new multi-million-dollar main stadium will be the centrepiece of the 2023 SEA Games, while the complex in its entirety is estimated to cost about $200 million when complete. 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. It will accommodate 100,000 people, while the main stadium will hold about 75,000 spectators.
Construction began in April 2013 on a 94-hectare lot near National Road 5 in Russei Keo district and is key to helping the kingdom meet high international standards demanded for the SEA Games.
The National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) last week convened a meeting with national sporting federations at its headquarters.
Summoned to discuss logistical details, the leadership of the Olympic Committee of Cambodia encouraged athletes to make every effort to win national medals and gain experience for future competitions.
“We expect all participants – athletes and coaches – to work together to honour Cambodia,” said Mr.Chamroeun.
Cambodia will participate in 13 sporting disciplines chosen following a series of discussions between the NOCC and the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports earlier this year.
“These 13 individual sports have a technical quality which Cambodia can compete in against other countries In Asia. They include taekwondo, gymnastics, swimming, athletics, and judo. In these sports we expect to have a shot at earning medals,” said Mr. Chamroeun.
At the last edition of the games in Incheon, South Korea, Taekwondo star Sorn Seavmey was the team’s sole medalist bringing the country’s 44-year wait for an Asian Games medal to an end and catapulting herself to superstar status. She overcame the odds to score a historic win defeating her Iranian adversary, Fatemeh Rouhani, in the final of the women’s under-73kg Taekwondo competition.
Speaking at yesterday’s meeting, Seavmey said she was thankful to the PM for his continued support and reiterated she would do her best to bring back gold from Jakarta.
The Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games 2018 will kick off on August 18 and will see more than 11,000 athletes from 45 countries descend on Indonesia to compete for medals in 40 sporting disciplines. The first batch of Cambodian athletes will depart the kingdom for Indonesia on August 14.
Indonesian tourism minister Arief Yahya recently said the country is expected to earn over $220 milion from over 278,000 people involved in the quadriennial sporting spectacle.