PM Hun Sen to SEA Games Team Cambodia: Win, but win fair

“A medal that is claimed through foul play or disobedience will only bring shame and dishonour, and should not be counted as a win”, he said.

Chhorn Norn

Chhorn Norn

The Phnom Penh Post


Two men hold hands as they walk towards Wat Phnom, passing decorations for the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games. Cambodia 2023

May 3, 2023

PHNOM PENH – As the SEA Games draw near, Prime Minister Hun Sen has told the members of Team Cambodia that he wants to see them strive to win more gold medals than at previous games, while also reminding them that only legitimate victories would bring glory to the Kingdom.

“A medal that is claimed through foul play or disobedience of the rules will only bring shame and dishonour, and should not be counted as a win,” he said.

During a May 1 meeting with 1,136 of the Kingdom’s sporting delegates at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen likened the hosting of the 32nd SEA Games to the GANEFO games hosted by the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk at the National Olympic Stadium in 1966.

“Our hosting of the SEA Games is truly a historic sequel to the 1966 event. His son lit the games’ torch at Angkor Wat, and the moment we have been waiting 64 years for is almost here,” he said.

“We have made the best preparations we can, and now it is time for you all to repay our confidence and make the maximum effort to win gold medals. However, you must all remember that every gold medal-winning performance must be righteous,” he added.

He warned the athletes that they are unlikely to enjoy ill-gotten medals for long, as the latest technology – including video assistant referees (VAR) – means cheating is a thing of the past.

The premier also told the assembled delegates that they should appreciate the importance of representing the Kingdom at home.

“You carry a heavier burden of responsibility than when you travel abroad, as we are hosts. I am not concerned about your strength and your techniques, but you must all remember to adhere to your virtues, ethics and the rules of the games. Do not violate the rules, because cheating will bring disgrace on the nation. This includes the use of performance enhancing drugs,” he said.

Hun Sen expressed his confidence that the athletes would avoid banned substances, as they knew it would taint the entire team.

He urged them to make friends with athletes from all of the ASEAN nations.

“We are the host country. We need to give respect. In competition, you have to fight with all your strength, you have to fight, yet you have to fight according to the rules. Win or lose, you must treat your opponents as friends.

“You should get to know as many of your opponents as possible, because sports are for building friendship and diplomacy,” he said.

PM Hun Sen to SEA Games Team Cambodia: Win, but win fair

Cambodian SEA Games contestants meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen (not pictured) on May 1. SPM

The prime minister extended his thanks to the Cambodian athletes who live overseas, and their parents.

“You have not forgotten your nation and come home to compete for Cambodia. It makes me happy to know that wherever you go, you are still Khmer. You are proud to fly the Cambodian flag. Some of you hold dual nationalities, but you never forget your race, and this contributes to enhancing our national prestige.

“I hope that Cambodian athletes in the future will gain fame abroad, but remember their motherland,” he said.

He also reaffirmed that as the host nation, Cambodia will take responsibility for providing safety to all of the sporting delegates attending the upcoming events.

During the meeting with members of Team Cambodia, he cited a Chinese-language Malaysian newspaper which had expressed concerns that traffic congestion may delay athletes and officials whose accommodation was far from their sporting venue.

Hun Sen said he is prepared to accept full responsibility for any delays, but that he is confident there would not be any. He suggested that the journalists get to know Cambodia better before making hasty judgements.

“Their concerns are baseless. I am pleased to assure them that we have planned very carefully for every eventuality. We employ motorcycles – and even tanks if so desired – to escort the [delegates] to their venues. During the ASEAN Summit and related meetings, none of the attendees were delayed by traffic congestion. It is clear that these journalists do not know the people of Phnom Penh, who are very dignified,” he added.

The prime minister also reminded the organisers to pay particularly close attention to the dietary requirements of the Kingdom’s guests.

“Many countries, particularly those that are Islamic, have very specific conditions. As the Kingdom prides itself on its religious tolerance, we should avoid causing any of our guests discomfort or offence, and pay careful attention to the meals and facilities we arrange for them,” he said.

Minister of Tourism and SEA Games organising committee permanent vice-president Thong Khon also addressed the function, noting that around 40 per cent of Team Cambodia had trained or competed abroad and shown a subsequent improvement in fitness and technique.

“Technically and psychologically, Team Cambodia is better prepared than it has ever been. Based on our assessments, we estimate the team’s skills have been enhanced by 70 per cent, and their fitness has almost doubled. At last year’s SEA Games in Vietnam, we claimed nine golds, 13 silvers and 41 bronzes,” he said.

“We believe we will double that this year. The mental strength and fighting spirit of Team Cambodia is at an all time high. We believe we will double that this year,” he added.

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