‘Spectacular’ 32nd SEA Games opening ceremony draws international praise for Cambodia


A brilliant show lights up the night sky during the opening ceremony of the 32nd SEA Games at Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh on May 5. - Photo by Hong Menea (Phnom Penh Post/ANN)

PHNOM PENH, May 8 (Phnom Penh Post/ANN): The opening ceremony of the “free” SEA Games 2023 in Phnom Penh earned praise from people from all walks of life, both locally and abroad, officials said, with the Kingdom having waited 64 years to host the spectacular regional sporting extravaganza. The biennial multi-sport event kicked off on May 5 and will continue through May 17.

The opening was presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany, Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith and delegates from various regional sporting bodies.

“Long live the Kingdom of Cambodia! ‘Sport: Live in peace’, peace for all and all for peace”, said the premier, in reference to the motto of the ongoing 32nd SEA Games and the upcoming 12th ASEAN Para Games, which will run from June 3-9.

He welcomed athletes from all over the world and extended his greetings to the participants of the event, as well as to citizens across the Kingdom and all members of the Cambodian diaspora living abroad.

“On behalf of the King and the Royal Government of Cambodia, I officially announce the opening of the 32nd SEA Games 2023,” he declared.

Addressing the event, first vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, Ng Ser Miang, presented the prime minister with the Pierre de Coubertin medal, for his achievement in organising the regional multi-sport events.

Ng congratulated Cambodia and the people for hosting the SEA Games and thanked Hun Sen for his vision, leadership and foresight in organising the Kingdom’ s first SEA Games.

“In so doing, you have brought Cambodia’s sporting aspirations to reality,” he said.

“Let us celebrate these SEA Games, and through sports, promote peace and foster friendship. I thank the people of Cambodia for their warm, kind and wonderful hospitality and wished them continuous prosperity and happiness,” he said.

Ng wished the athletes every success in their respective sports, and urged them to compete under the guidance of the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect.

“To one and all, I wish you a memorable and spectacular Southeast Asian Games. I have every confidence that they will match the remarkable and impressive opening ceremony we witnessed tonight,” he said.

Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism and permanent vice-president of both the SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games organising committees (CAMSOC-CAMAPGOC), said the 32nd SEA Games has brought together 10,890 athletes and officials, with 579 events of 36 sports due to be contested. He noted that the event has given the region the chance to develop the sports sector, for the benefit of all people.

“The celebration of this event allows the South-East Asian community to strengthen the spirit of peace, unity and stability. This spirit is in line with the motto of the 32nd SEA Games: Sport: live in peace,” he said.

“Through sports, we join together, we grow together. Through sports, we make efforts together for a society of harmony, strength and peace. Our responsibility, creativity and resilience to challenges are fundamental to the identity and uniqueness of the Southeast Asian region,” he added.

Hannah Yeoh, Malaysian Minister of Youth and Sport, shared her gratefulness to the Kingdom for the “magnificent” opening ceremony.

“I want to congratulate the government of Cambodia and the organisers of the opening ceremony. It was so well done, so impressive and so colourful! Congratulations,” she said.

“The people here are so friendly and we can see their excitement in their eyes. This was reflected in the spectacular ceremony they put together for their nation. I think there are a lot of great days ahead for Cambodia, and I wish you success,” she added. - Phnom Penh Post/ANN

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