Poland at the SEA Games? Cambodia apologises for upside-down flag blunder at SEA Games opening ceremony

Myanmar and Indonesia's flags were held upside down during a performance at the opening ceremony of the Cambodia SEA Games. - The Straits Times/ANN

PHNOM PENH, May 7 (Phnom Penh Post/ANN): Organisers of the 2023 SEA Games opening ceremony have issued a public apology to Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar for unintentionally holding their country flags upside down during the opening ceremony at the Morodok Techo National Stadium on Friday.

Town Production, a Cambodian broadcasting and media production company, said in a statement on Saturday that it deeply regrets the “disrespectful mistake” and that it “involves an oversight from our part for mistakenly reversing the flags”.

It added: “We take full responsibility on this matter and would like to humbly ask for your forgiveness for overlooking such important details from our team.

“Moving forward, we hope this mistake will serve as a cautionary tale for others and will work internally to improve our form and ensure this will never happen again.”

The production company also said that it will send an official apology letter to the embassies of the three countries.

The hosts kicked off its first-ever SEA Games with an opening extravaganza to remember at the National Stadium on Friday as those in attendance, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, Laos President Thongloun Sisoulith, International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president Ng Ser Miang and Singapore National Olympic Council president Tan Chuan-Jin, were treated to a night of colour, culture and celebration.

During a performance by local singers, several dancers were seen carrying the flags of the 2023 SEA Games participants, with the Indonesia and Myanmar flags upside down.

A Facebook user commented on the official Cambodia SEA Games page: “As an Indonesian, I really enjoy the performances that Cambodia has prepared, everything is beautiful, your culture and the dance styles are beautiful but when I saw my country’s flag upside down I was very disappointed, an event of this magnitude but how could such a thing happen?

“Two people were carrying flags and both were upside down, I mean the flag couldn’t have been prepared all of a sudden right?”

According to Indonesian media, Harry Warganegara, acting secretary-general of National Olympic Committee (NOC) Indonesia, sent an official objection letter after the incident to Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of the NOC of Cambodia and chief executive officer of the Cambodia SEA Games Organising Committee.

“Cambodia has apologised directly to us and acted quickly so that the incident will not be repeated,” Warganegara said, in a report by Indonesian news portal Tempo.

This is not the first time that there has been a flag blunder at a SEA Games. In 2017, Kuala Lumpur had to apologise to Indonesia after the flag was similarly printed upside down in a SEA Games souvenir booklet. - The Straits Times/ANN

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