With the budget for the May 25-June 6 second National Games doubling from the inaugural edition to around 6 billion riel (around $1.5 million), the cash rewards for medallists have been considerably increased, up to five times more than what was awarded in 2016.
According to Hun Samuth, director of the Department of Sport and Physical Education at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the purse for a gold medallist has been raised to 800,000 riel (around $200) from 150,000 riel.
The prizes for silver and bronze medallists have been boosted to 600,000 and 400,000 riel, respectively.
As many as 4,000 athletes from 25 provinces and cities are expected to take part in the country’s biggest multi-discipline event, which will serve as a serious logistical test for participating federations and a trial of skill and strength for the athletes hoping for national recognition and the chance to represent the Kingdom in major regional and international events if they don’t already do so.
Athletes are to compete in 27 Olympic and non-Olympic disciplines at the Games.
“The timing of the National Games is crucial in evaluating the strength of our national athletes and to draw our future plans for the coming Asian Games in Jakarta and next year’s SEA Games in the Philippines,” said secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia Vath Chamroeun.
“It is also a good starting point to identify talent so that we can launch our long-term project of preparing our national athletes to perform at their best when we host the SEA Games in 2023.”
While the size and scope of the second National Games has been increased from 189 events in 2016 to 272 this year, elaborate arrangements have been made to put on spectacular opening and closing ceremonies at an estimated cost of nearly $600,000.
While the Sports Ministry will oversee the competition as a whole, the NOCC will be solely responsible for the opening and closing ceremonies to be held at Olympic Stadium.
Prime Minister Hun Sen lighting the Games Cauldron remotely is set to be one of the highlights of this year’s Games.