Siem Reap may well host the Olympic Council of Asia’s 2016 General Assembly if an offer made to the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia by OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah gets the royal government’s permission and support.
The OCA chief’s proposal came during a bilateral meeting over the weekend with NOCC secretary-general Vath Chamroeun on the sidelines of the 32nd General Assembly in Manila, marking 100 years since the city first hosted the Far Eastern Games.
The devastating damage caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan forced the meeting to be postponed for two months and moved from its original location of Boracay Island to Manila.
This change of venue provided a strange but sentimental twist to Asian sporting history since the Philippines capital was the venue for the inaugural multi-discipline competition of the world’s biggest continent in 1913.
The most notable takeaway from the centenary celebrations and yearly gathering of the region’s 44 NOCs that concluded on Sunday was the OCA president’s grand gesture in inviting the Cambodian Olympic body to host the 35th edition and all related activities.
“We are honoured to host an august gathering like the OCA General Assembly. We will place this proposal before the royal government for clearance and once it is approved we are looking at a possible date in November 2016,” Chamroeun told the Post yesterday.
“The OCA president personally conveyed to me his appreciation for the work the NOCC has been doing in promoting the Olympic movement in the country and he expressed the hope that a General Assembly would considerably boost Cambodia’s profile in the continent.
“For us it is a great opportunity to rally support from all the other OCA member nations and world governing bodies for our biggest sports initiative – the 2023 SEA Games that we will be hosting,” he added.
Keeping in mind that Cambodia has already announced its intention to host a global conference on sports tourism at the end of 2014 in Siem Reap – the brain child of NOCC president Thong Khon – Sheikh Al-Sabah reportedly suggested to the NOCC to hold it either a day prior or after the General Assembly in 2016.
“We certainly value [Sheikh Al-Sabah’s] opinion, but our president, Thong Khon, is very passionate about the sports tourism meet and we will weigh all our options and take a decision whether to go ahead and host it this year as announced or merge it with the OCA two years later,” Chamroeun said.
Athletes from China, Japan and the Philippines took part in a competition involving 11 disciplines in 1913. The event has since evolved into the Asian Games, the second biggest multi-discipline sports competition in the world after the Olympic Games.
As the South Korean city of Incheon gets ready to host the 17th edition in September this year, Asia will be the focus of world’s attention with the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.