Prime Minister Hun Sen requested support from the Japanese to help promote the sport of judo in Cambodia and assist with training the Cambodian national team in advance of the Kingdom hosting the 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in 2023.
Cambodian Judo Federation (CJF) president Heng Ly expressed his appreciation for the prime minister's support and said that having the backing of the national leadership would help judo to stand out among the other sports and increase the team's chances of winning a medal in 2023.
Hun Sen’s request was made during his meeting on June 30 at the Peace Palace with Gotaro Ogawa, former Japanese ambassador to Cambodia from 2000-2003.
According to Eang Sophalleth, personal assistant to Hun Sen, the prime minister requested that Ogawa help with finding Japanese support for Cambodia's judo athletes to make Cambodia more competitive for the upcoming SEA games.
Ogawa told Hun Sen that – though he finished his diplomatic mission to Cambodia many years ago – his heart had always stayed here in the Kingdom.
Ogawa pledged his support for Cambodia in the field of education by helping Cambodian students access Japanese-language training and cultural exchanges, adding that he is also participating in initiatives to help Cambodian law students further their educations.
Ogawa said he would be honoured to help Cambodia achieve success at the 2023 SEA Games in the sport of judo as well.
Hun Sen thanked Ogawa for all of his contributions to the furtherance of diplomatic relations and good will between the two countries and his assistance with the development of Cambodia, including his latest work in the area of human resources, which has become a national priority for the Kingdom.
Speaking from Canada, Heng Ly said he was thrilled that Hun Sen had solicited help from Ogawa on behalf of the sport of judo in Cambodia.
“I am really happy that the head of the government has gone out of his way to help and support us by finding partners to help develop the sport of judo in the Kingdom. Today the Cambodian Judo Federation admittedly has many shortcomings.
"Once I became the president of the federation, I began making a determined effort to seek more material assistance from abroad to help our sport, including from Japan.
“Our athletes have trained hard in order to try and get a good ranking headed into the 2023 SEA Games, but we still have a lot of shortcomings. The support and attention of [Hun Sen] at this time will help motivate our coaching staff – and especially our athletes – to work harder to win medals at the upcoming games,” he said.