Prime Minister Hun Sen told the disabled athletes who will be travelling to the 11th ASEAN PARA Games in Indonesia to strictly avoid the use of drugs or banned substances in sports in order to maintain the values and honour of the nation on the international stage.
During a meeting with Para Games delegates at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on July 6, Hun Sen, who is president of the National Paralympic Committee of Cambodia, warned that if such a case happened, it would leave a stain on the nation which could never be erased.
“The most important thing is to make sure that the rules and regulations of the games are followed – all athletes must avoid any violation of the rules. My second point is that athletes have to absolutely avoid the use of banned substances, as it would tarnish the image of the nation,” he said.
“Winning gold or silver – or not winning at all – does not matter. Doping would be a disgrace to the nation. The medals that the entire rest of the team win would not be enough to outweigh the damage done to our reputation,” he added.
He said he placed a high value on the efforts of disabled people, in both sports and other fields, and this was why he assumed the presidency of the paralympic committee.
“Why am I president? Because I want to encourage and bring hope to all Cambodians with disabilities. I am also a disabled person,” he added.
The premier said he was living proof that people with disabilities were capable of achieving great things.
Focusing on himself, he said: “People with disabilities have the ability to become prime minister, and not just for a one or two-year term. Almost four decades have passed. By 1997, I had already been prime minister for 12 years, if we think back to 1985. I encourage those with disabilities to follow my example and participate in society as much as they can.”
According to a report by Yi Sopheaktra, deputy chef de mission of the Cambodian delegates, the paralympic committee has entered athletes in 11 sports, including athletics, swimming, volleyball, wheelchair basketball, blind basketball, seven-a-side football, table tennis, badminton, chess and boccia.
A total of 166 Paralympic Games delegates, including 115 athletes as well as 39 coaches and assistant coaches, will travel to Indonesia for the games on July 24. The prime minister has appointed Hun Many, president of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC), as the Kingdom’s representative for the mission.
In response to Many’s request for charter flights to the team, Hun Sen on July 6 agreed to provide a special flight for the Cambodian Para Games delegates and, as president of the committee, will be responsible for accommodation, meals and tickets for the trip.
Yi Veasna, the committee’s secretary-general, previously lauded the prime minister’s involvement.
“The participation of the nation’s leadership not only shows the value placed on people with disabilities in Cambodia, but also demonstrated the will of the entire ASEAN family. All leaders in the ASEAN bloc take care of and uphold the rights of each of the disabled. This is true equality and shows that we are all living in the same family, whether disabled or not,” he said.
In addition, CAMSOC – the national committee tasked with organising the 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) and the 12th ASEAN Para Games 2023 – was dispatching 70 delegates to observe the games and 50 performers who would receive the ASEAN Para Games flag from the hosts at the closing ceremony.
“Regarding receiving the flag of the ASEAN Para Games, [Hun Sen] has agreed in principle to assign Hun Many this essential task. Many will hand the flag over to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh, who is also chairman of [CAMSOC],” said Sopheaktra, following the July 6 meeting.