The Kingdom will spend over $100 million in total to organise this year’s 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, Prime Minister Hun Sen said as the SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) prepares to kick off its 100-day countdown to the biennial multi-sports extravaganza.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony for nearly 7,000 students from the Cambodian University for Specialties on January 23, Hun Sen said the Kingdom is also paying attention to security for the event and holding it responsibly beyond just winning medals.

“This is a big event which we need to spend a lot of funds on. China helped build Morodok Techo National Stadium and we also used our own budget to add to that construction and other facilities.

“In the past, I had said that we would be spending around $40 million per year. So, the preparation has been three years so far and now the total budget to be spent will be over $100 million. I don’t hide this fact,” he said.

Hun Sen stressed that Cambodia will fulfil its duties responsibly and provide safety for all of the sports delegates from all participating countries and ensure they enjoy coming to compete in Cambodia.

He recalled that before accepting the duty to host the games, Cambodia had rejected the hosting opportunity several times previously due to a lack of facilities.

Responding to unnamed critics who he said faulted Cambodia for lagging behind neighbouring Laos who already hosted the games, Hun Sen said: “It was not bad to ask for a delay to host the games. At that time, we needed to spend our money on constructing canals, roads, schools and hospitals. I said at the 2011 ASEAN summit in Indonesia that my country is poor, I need to spend money to build what people need first and would take the SEA Games into account later.”

As the May games approach, CAMSOC is set to kick off its 100-day countdown on January 25.

A SEA Games torch ceremony, or “Royal Sports Fire”, will be organised on March 21 at Angkor Wat and will be lit by King Norodom Sihamoni. The torch relay will go through all 10 ASEAN member states, starting with Vietnam taking the torch relay on March 24, and Laos to be the last on April 25, before it reaches Cambodia as the event starts.

CAMSOC is set to host the countdown ceremony at Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh on the afternoon of January 25, with the participation of Chaiyapak Siriwat, deputy chair of the SEA Games Federation (SEAGF) Executive Committee; Minister of Tourism Thong Khon in his capacity as rotating SEAGF president; and Minister of National Defence Tea Banh in his capacity as CAMSOC president.