Cambodia started to construct a China-funded stadium in April on the northern outskirts of Phnom Penh in its preparations for hosting the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games for the first time in 2023.
Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Xiong Bo presided over the groundbreaking ceremony which was attended by about 6,000 people.
According to a report by Thong Khon, the president of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, the main stadium is estimated to cost 1 billion Chinese yuan ($157 million) which is aided by the Chinese government.
The stadium, covering an area of 16.4 hectares, is expected to be completed at the end of 2020, he said, adding that it would be used for football, rugby and athletics.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Hun Sen said the main stadium, designed in the shape of an ancient Chinese sailing ship, will be capable of accommodating about 60,000 spectators.
“Choosing the shape of a sailing ship for the main stadium truly reflects the traditional friendship between Cambodia and China that has existed since the old times,” he said.
“The stadium will serve as a main venue for Cambodia to host the SEA Games in 2023 and other international sports events.”
Meanwhile, the prime minister expressed his gratitude to the government and the people of China for their support for the stadium, saying it would greatly contribute to the development of the sports sector in Cambodia.
Mr Xiong said the main stadium would become a “symbol of friendship” between China and Cambodia, expressing “deep sentiments of love” from the Chinese people to the Cambodian people.
He said currently, Cambodia has developed a number of major achievements for its nation mainly due to the country’s peace and stability.
“Sports sector can be developed only if the country has peace and stability, so when we are playing sports happily, we should not forget to express our gratitude to peace,” said the ambassador.
The main stadium is part of the Morodok Techo National Sport Complex, which is located on an 85-hectare site inside the Garden City in Chrouy Changvar district, 15km north of central Phnom Penh.
At the event, the prime minister also inaugurated an indoor stadium and an aquatic sports centre.