PHNOM PENH, March 21 (Phnom Penh Post/ANN): King Norodom Sihamoni lit the SEA Games torch at Angkor Wat temple on Tuesday, marking the kickoff of the relay of the 32nd SEA Games torch, timed to coincide with the Angkor Wat equinox.
The ceremony was attended by several members of the Cambodian leadership, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, Minister of National Defence Tea Banh and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, along with sporting delegations from the ASEAN nations.
Chaiyapak Siriwat, CEO of the SEA Games Federation (SEAGF) Office, and Osoth Bhavilai, ASEAN Para Sports Federation Executive Committee president, also witnessed the historic event.
The torch lighting ceremony, with 45 days to go until the start of the biennial regional multi-sport event, was held directly in front of the famed Angkor Wat Temple, just 45 days before the opening ceremony of the biennial multi-sports event, being hosted for the first time in the Kingdom.
The magnificent temple was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1992.
Following the lighting, the torch was relayed around the Angkor Archaeological Park by nine Cambodian athletes.
The torch will leave Cambodia on March 22 to tour the 10 South-East Asian nations which will participate in the games.
It will return to the Kingdom on April 27.
Cambodia will host the 32nd SEA Games from May 5 to 17. The Morodok Techo National Stadium in the capital's northern suburb will be the centerpiece venue for official opening and closing ceremonies, and tournaments.
Tourism Minister Thong Khon, president of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, said a total of 11,453 athletes and delegates from Southeast Asian countries are expected to participate in the Games.
"This is a sign of solidarity, friendship, and good cooperation in the great family of the Olympic movement in the region," he said.
According to CAMSOC, the Games will see athletes competing in 37 sports with more than 600 disciplines. - Phnom Penh Post/ANN