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Athletic competitions integral to diplomacy, global unity: official

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Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of both the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) and the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC), made the comment as he explained in depth the meaningful benefits that society receives through sports. SUPPLIED

Athletic competitions integral to diplomacy, global unity: official

Sports play a very important diplomatic role and can bring nations together in a way that politics cannot, said a Cambodian top sport official.

Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of both the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) and the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC), made the comment as he explained in depth the meaningful benefits that society receives through sports.

Chamroeun, who plays the most important role in organising the 32nd SEA Games in 2023 in Cambodia, is well aware of the importance of using sports for diplomacy, and said this was why the largest countries in the world spent billions of dollars to host other nations at large sporting events.

He asked a few rhetorical questions to ignite the interest of the Cambodian people: “Why do Olympic member states spend billions of dollars to host these events? Why did China dare to spend more than two billion dollars to host the 2008 Olympic Games? Why not use that money to develop, instead of putting on a sporting carnival?

“It is because there is something special that sport can do that politics can’t! Is there a better way to change attitudes or politics than playing games with the world? China spent more than two billion dollars to show the other countries of the world that they are a superpower now,” he said.

“If China had used political means to try to showcase its achievements, would anyone have listened? They would not. By hosting a successful Olympic Games, China made sure the while world saw how developed and forward looking it was.

“We are hosting the SEA Games to change Cambodia’s image on the international stage, because there are still some places who think poorly of the Kingdom,” the sports expert added.

“The world is huge and some countries do not know Cambodia. There are people who think we are still a country devastated by war, with many landmines and people living in poverty – they do not know the real conditions on the ground here. What we are doing by hosting theses games, is trying to share our successes and sell Cambodia to the world,” he said.

The detailed and in-depth description of the benefits of sport was made by Chamroeun in a June 23 press conference which detailed the journey to the 2023 SEA-ASEAN Para Games at the Morodok Techo National Stadium.

Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Information, echoed Chamroeun’s statement, saying: “Sport will make us more well known than anything else. In the past, Cambodia was defined by Angkor Wat and Pol Pot, but now we have the opportunity to change that through the games. I hope the media play their part in helping to grow our sport and our nation.”

Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism and permanent vice-president of CAMSOC, also saw the benefits of using the games to show Cambodia’s potential to the world and boost the return of tourism and other sectors after the pandemic induced slowdown.

Khon, who is also president of the NOCC, said: “We want to use the SEA Games as an opportunity to make Cambodia’s beauty and hospitality better known. It is not just the 600 million people of ASEAN that will watch this event.

“Millions of other people in the world will get to know the kingdom through this event. Long after the games has ended, we will be in people’s hearts and minds. We will become a more popular destination and will be well known as a nation of friendly smiles.”

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