The second edition of the National Games, strategically planned as a crucial stress test for federations and a trial of strength for athletes in an effort to build a strong squad for the ensuing Jakarta Asian Games, has been expanded to 27 disciplines spread across 282 events to be staged mainly in Phnom Penh, with the newly introduced baseball touching base in Kampong Thom and triathlon going all the way to the coastal town of Kep.
The biggest multi-discipline event the Kingdom has ever staged in the last few decades will run from May 25 to June 5, nearly two years after the concept of nationally structured competition led to its launch two years ago with just 15 disciplines.
Though the opening and closing ceremonies went well, the competition as a whole was roundly criticised as confusion-riddled and at times even chaotic with the media getting poor or no access to results and several competitors unhappy over staying conditions and travel arrangements.
There were also several logistical and organisational shortfalls, prompting both the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS), which controlled the competition component, and the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, which owned responsibility for both the opening and closing ceremonies at the Olympic Stadium, to conduct a comprehensive review.
“We weighed both the positives and negatives from the first Games and after thoroughly processing many areas where there were mistakes or misteps we have now addressed those issues and I can confidently say that the second edition will not only be bigger but it will be better and more efficiently run,” NOCC Secretary-General Vath Chamroeun told The Post yesterday.
“We will build on the positives and We will put the lessons learnt from the 2016 experience for good use this time,” Chamroeun added.
Representatives from all the participating federations were summoned by MoEYS and NOCC for a joint meeting a couple of weeks ago to make sure that each one of them played an efficient part in the event under its control both in terms of quality of competition and the technical back up that is so vital in the form of equipment, resources, referees and judges.
With the NOCC creating a new digital avenue by vastly upgrading its website and extending its regular coverage through a mobile app and other social media outlets, the prime sports body is confident of a wider and better news and picture coverage of the games.
The national federations have also been encouraged to interface with the web platform on an individual basis.
ITF taekwondo debut
While bringing back baseball to the mainstream went on expected lines, the introduction of ITF-style taekwondo has come as a pleasant surprise since Kukkiwon and WTF enjoy a popular following in the country.
The original International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) was founded on March 22, 1966, by General Choi Hong-hi in Seoul, South Korea. The ITF practises a style of taekwondo known as Chang Hon taekwondo, though colloquially this is often called ITF-style.
During the 1960s, the goal of the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) was to promote a unified style of taekwondo, as opposed to the nine separate martial arts styles. By creating ITF, Choi isolated himself but the KTA established Kukkiwon and WTF
The fledgling Shooting Federation has been given an opening to showcase its new found vigor in promoting the sport. For well over a decade shooting as a sport had suffered because of a weapons ban but following a healthy revival of the federation nearly three years ago, this popular Olympic discipline gets its due after narrowly missing a chance to send a team to last year’s SEA Games in Malaysia. Along with most of the Olympic events, the Games will also have soft tennis, petanque, bokator, kun Khmer, kempo and karate.
The opening ceremony on May 25 and the valedictory on June 5 will be at the National Sports complex under the supervision of the NOCC which is going all out to make it a spectacular show. The Post has reliably learnt that the Games torch will be lit by King Sihamoni at the Royal Palace and carried in relay a short distance away to the main Stadium where Prime Minister Hun Sen is to light the cauldron by remote control with the press of a button which will set off five specially made fire arrows that will set the flame.
The NOCC top brass recently had meetings with technical experts from Malaysia and China to seek their advise and help regarding a high-tech laser show, special sound and light effects and a fireworks display at the end of the Games.