After two years of Covid-19 disruption, the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) and other partners have co-organised the Angkor Empire Marathon scheduled for August 7 in Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap.

The organisers said the resumption of the Angkor Empire Marathon in 2022 will contribute to the restoration of tourism in the province. This will be the seventh time the marathon has taken place.

Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of the NOCC, said at a press conference on July 27 that the NOCC was unable to hold the Angkor Empire Marathon in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The government granted permission this year to resume the event, which is held in the rainy season when tourism is typically at lower levels in order to boost visits.

“This event brings together participants from all over Asia, especially from China and Japan. The event has seldom attracted people from Europe because August is towards the end of their vacation and travel period,” he said.

“Our main market is China, but because of China’s travel restrictions tourism from there is down. But we're hoping the resumption of events like the marathon will help restore tourism from abroad and also boost domestic travel. That's our main goal."

He added that besides helping the tourism sector, the marathon is also a fundraiser for Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital, a world-renowned charitable institution that has saved the lives of countless Cambodian children and mothers.

“In addition to the promotion of tourism, we will collect proceeds from this event for donations to the hospital as we've always done in the past,” he added.

“We hold every marathon as a charity event that helps our society and this event is staffed by volunteers and relies on the participation of the public," he continued.

He said the number of registered participants for the marathon stands at around 2,000 runners, of whom about 300 are foreigners, noting that they are mostly long-term residents here, with only about 20 per cent travelling from outside of Cambodia.

“This is the first stage in post-Covid 19 recovery to help the informal economy and macro-economy and tourism-related businesses in Siem Reap. They'll have 2,000 guests to cater to in the first stage who will all need accommodations and meals and other services, so it is very profitable for the local businesses when we hold each event,” Chamroeun said.

The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) will also send its officials to help organise the event to draw on that experience for improving Cambodia's capacity to host the 32nd SEA Games next year.

“Another important thing is that this marathon event is being run by our expert committee. We will study and learn from it to draw on that knowledge to hold the marathon at the SEA Games. We will hold it in the same place, so it will be easy for us to hold the same event for the SEA Games in 2023,” Chamroeun said.

Sem Phalla, general manager of the Phnom Penh International Half Marathon, said the upcoming Angkor event consists of a full marathon of 42.195 km, a half-marathon of 21 km, a 10km event and a 3km event.

“A major marathon event brings together hundreds or thousands of runners, most of whom are used to running marathons through cities, but our Angkor Empire Marathon has a unique setting that includes a world heritage site and our countryside with beautiful scenery as well as Siem Reap town, so I would say that our marathon course is one of the best in the world,” he said.