PM Apologizes for Delay in Hosting SEA Games in Cambodia

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday broke ground on a $175-million, Chinese-funded sports complex that will be used to host the 2023 SEA Games, apologizing to sports fans for the country being too busy rebuilding after war to host the games sooner.

The ceremony kicked off the first of three construction phases of the 85-hectare Morodok Techo National Sports Complex. Being built on former wetlands on Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changva peninsula, it will ultimately include a 70,000-capacity outdoor stadium, outdoor sports fields, and an indoor sports building and swimming center on its completion, set for 2022.

Prime Minister Hun Sen greets onlookers at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Morodok Techo National Sports Complex in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, in a photograph posted to his Facebook page.

Mr. Hun Sen began his speech at the facility in Chroy Changva district by apologizing.

“First, I need to apologize once again to my fellow citizens, especially the sportsmen and sportswomen, for the delay in acting as the host country for the Southeast Asia Games until 2023,” Mr. Hun Sen said.

“The reason for the delay, as we all know, is that infrastructure and human resources in the sports sector were completely destroyed, and our top priority in the past, as well as now, is to rebuild, to restore and develop” the country.

“So…do not dismiss me or the CPP that leads the government on the issue of not being able to host the Southeast Asia Games,” he

said.

The government had hoped to host the games in 2015, but opted to push back the date so it could fully develop its facilities. Its plans were propelled by a $112-million donation and additional $33-million loan promised by Chinese delegates during a visit in 2014.

The project’s main stadium design is inspired by sails that once carried Chinese maritime trade ships to Cambodia, Mr. Hun Sen said on Tuesday. He boasted of the facility’s high security, which he said would allow for the speedy evacuation of stadium spectators.

The facilities will ultimately be bordered by Garden City, a development slated to include a high-rise tower, golf course, waterfront promenade and convention center.

The city swapped hundreds of thousands of hectares of public land with CPP Senator Ly Yong Phat in 2012 to make way for the project.

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