Prime Minister Hun Sen regards the 3rd National Games and 1st Cambodian Paralympic Games as a crucial opportunity to build the abilities, talents and professionalism of the Kingdom’s athletes in order to prepare them to seriously contend for medals at the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games in 2023.

At the opening ceremony for the 3rd National Games held at Morodok Techo National Stadium on November 21, Hun Sen also said he appreciated the hard work of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC), as well as other relevant institutions that went into putting together the event, which runs from November 19-30.

“This national sporting competition is not only an important national sporting event for Cambodia, but also an opportunity to build the capacities, talents and professional skills for our sportsmen and sportswomen so that they will be ready for the SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games.

“The event is 167 days away and this is another historic honour for us in the sporting sector and an event that we have waited to host for 64 years,” he said.

He added that athletic competitions play an important role in building relationships, strengthening solidarity and friendship because these events contribute to an increase in social capital and promote social harmony.

The premier noted that sports are the cultural inheritance of nations today that come from thousands of years of development of the art of self-defence and national defence.

He said he appreciated all of Cambodia’s disabled athletes for participating in the ASEAN Para Games in Indonesia and congratulated them on achieving a good outcome they can be proud of.

He attributed the success to the pride of the Cambodian people in their country, saying it was these contributions that have enhanced the prestige of Cambodia regionally and internationally.

“Please strive to demonstrate your abilities with all your heart and energy to overcome your disability and show that those with disabilities can still accomplish a lot,” he said.

Education minister Hang Chuon Naron, who also serves as chairman of the joint commission in charge of the 3rd National Games and the 1st Cambodian Paralympics Games, said the event would provide athletes and technical officials the opportunity to improve and sharpen their skills in preparation for the 2023 SEA Games.

The opening ceremony of National Games at Morodok Techo Stadium on November 21. CAMBODIA2023

“This national event will run from November 19-30 in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kampot, Preah Sihanouk, Kep and Siem Reap with 38 sports competitions and this will give us an opportunity to measure the participants’ athletic skills,” he said.

Minister of Tourism and NOCC president Thong Khon said he regarded the NOCC, education ministry and the National Sports Federation as the three pillars of sports and athletics in Cambodia.

He said the national sports competition had also provided technical officials the opportunity to address problems and deal with unexpected snags in a high pressure environment with the spotlight on them and a stadium full of spectators.

Khon said the three things that will ensure Cambodia is prepared for the games next year are sufficient training for its athletes, revitalising the hospitality sector to serve the attendees and managing the spectacle of the opening and closing ceremonies smoothly to make them an impressive sight.

“Good community interconnectedness will make these sporting days a grand, dignified, prestigious and proud celebration by the host country,” he said.

He added that the NOCC is prepared to cooperate with all relevant ministries and institutions, National Sports Federation and authorities to develop the Kingdom’s national sports and the Cambodian Olympic movement so that athletes and athletic competitions in Cambodia will meet international standards and be ruled by the principles of fair play, clean play and green play.

“Let me thank all relevant institutions for supporting the Cambodian Olympics movement and providing cooperation in the spirit of national sports. We have one goal: Seeking national honour, prestige and excellence with national sports and the theme ‘sports bring peace and development’,” Khon said.