Caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen followed his years-long tradition of Peace Palace reception on Monday morning involving meeting, greeting and blessing the 71-member Cambodian contingent of athletes, coaches, officials and administrators heading to Indonesia next week.
The 18th Asian Games are being jointly hosted in the capital Jakarta and South Sumatra’s Palembang city from August 18 to September 2.
After a landslide victory in the recent national elections, Hun Sen saw the result as an endorsement of his long-term vision of peace, progress and prosperity, and declared that nowhere exemplified this spirit than the field of sports, particularly among those who had the honor of representing the Kingdom in the second- biggest multidiscipline sporting event in the world after the Olympics.
Arriving in his office at about 8:30am in the company of senior ministers, including the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia president and Tourism Minister Thong Khon, Hun Sen switched gears quickly in his address from political and election references to his favourite routine of inspiring the squad to elevate their performances and bring greater glory to the Kingdom.
He cautioned the athletes about breaking the rules and violating doping regulations, while stressing the need to play hard but fair.
“Winning and losing are part of sport. Results do matter, but it is better to lose honourably than win dishonourably,” Hun Sen said, drawing loud appreciation from the gathering.
As well as his passionate appeal to the athletes to bring home more medals and uphold the country’s prestige and pride, the world’s longest-serving Prime Minister gave away $500 to each member of the delegation, an increase of $200 compared to the previous mission.
Praise for Aguero
Before the Prime Minister’s address, NOCC president Thong Khon in his welcome speech highlighted the composition of the squad, while holding out assurances that the athletes have made good preparations.
“I am hopeful of good performances this time. The entire population will be eager to see Sorn Seavmey defend her Incheon taekwondo gold medal, the first and only one for the country in more than 60 years. I am also optimistic about Jujitsu doing well,” he said.
The secretary-general of the NOCC, Vath Chamroeun, who heads the mission to the Asian Games, thanked the Prime Minister for his unwavering support for Cambodian sports and his inspirational initiatives that have driven athletes to a higher level of commitment while also helping them to improve their performances.
Cambodian athletes will take part in 13 of the Games’40 disciplines, including jujitsu and sailing, which are making their mark for the first time at this level.