CAMBODIA’S first fully-fledged aquatics centre officially opened in Kampot town on Monday, signaling a new phase of rapid water sports development which will also serve the ever growing demand for water-related tourist recreation.
The Olympic Council of Asia backed the US$100,000 centre, which was built by a private construction company for the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia and has been mainly funded by the Olympasia programme of the International Olympic Committee.
The centre will provide facilities for training, recreation and competition involving a range of Olympic disciplines like canoeing, rowing and sailing besides acting as a major hub for indigenous and traditional events like dragon boat racing.
Tourism Minister Dr Thong Khoun, who is also the president of the NOCC, described the centre as a significant sports and tourism initiative that would enhance the Kingdom’s international profile. He said the country’s long-felt need for an organised platform for water sports had now been answered.
He added that there could not have been a better and more suitable venue for a centre like this than Kampot town, which ranks among the prime tourist attractions with historic links to water sports.
“We hope to get better results in the SEA Games and other international events now that we have this excellent infrastructure in place,” the minister said after a colourful opening ceremony attended by the Governor of Kampot province and high ranking officials from the Ministry of Education.
Vath Chamroeun, the Secretary General of the NOCC, said the setting up of this centre marked the beginning of a new era of infrastructure development in the country that would eventually pave the way for hosting the biennial SEA Games in the near future.
He said the centre would be a canoeist’s delight and would soon offer adventure sports like surfing to foreign tourists.
After the inauguration the dignitaries were treated to a round of canoeing, rowing and boating performances.
Water sports play a big role at SEA Games and Asian Games and it is hoped that with this new centre Cambodian athletes will finally get a chance to win some medals.