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ASEAN sports-focus for post-pandemic recovery

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Education minister Hang Chuon Naron addresses a workshop on the state of sport and recreation development in ASEAN held on August 10. SUPPLIED

ASEAN sports-focus for post-pandemic recovery

ASEAN member states have been in talks on the “Development of the Sporting Situation and Recreational Places in the ASEAN Region”, which are focused on a regional drive to build better gyms, sports facilities and recreational areas to improve their peoples’ health and quality of life.

At the opening of a workshop in Phnom Penh on August 10, Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Hang Chuon Naron said sports are of precious value and great benefit, which not only help to improve physical and mental health, but also are strongly indicative of economies that are robust enough to be able to generate income.

“We meet today to work and share knowledge, good practices and the experiences of our ASEAN family members to raise the living standards of our people,” Chuon Naron said in his speech.

He said sports are of vital importance and a crucial component of modern society and taught people the value of discipline. Sporting events are a means of direct communication with all people, irrespective of gender, age, language or socio-economic conditions and across a diversity of cultures.

“Research has found that participating in these activities was linked positively to physical and social welfare and awareness. Therefore, we are sitting together here to work on the situation of developing sports across the region and recreational places for all of ASEAN because it is the purpose of encouraging an active lifestyle as well as improving the health of our peoples and maintaining the sustainable development of ASEAN,” Chuon Naron added.

Hidetoshi Nishimura, executive director of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), said sports are not only an integral part of modern society that teach people important life lessons and values such as discipline while improving physical welfare, creativity and enhancing people’s quality of life, but sports activity is also strongly connected to economic activity.

“The sporting field contributes to economies in many ways and creates income for improving the lives of people. It is also one of the means of increasing the influence of sports in economies and societies through the use of sports role models and recreational areas in building this ASEAN community,” he added.

He continued that the creation of sporting areas would boost the health of the people, so the opportunities can be turned into economic activity for generating income and they also bring the community together closer and create a feeling of closeness in society.

“Sports have the powers of connection and uniting people from different places. In this sense, I commended Cambodia – who chaired ASEAN this year – for urging the creation of sporting areas across ASEAN in the member countries and other initiatives under the ASEAN Work Plan on Sports 2021-2025,” he said.

Nishimura also said that now is the best time for capitalising on sports in order to help recovery for the post-pandemic economies, and to do that ASEAN must continue to implement policies in an effective and creative manner and provide infrastructure with humanitarian and financial assistance for sports and recreation in each country.

He added that solid cooperation and partnership between governments, businesses and other international organisations was of vital importance in contributing to the development of sports and sporting facilities throughout the ASEAN region.

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