After 64 years of waiting, Cambodia has finally held a historic opening ceremony for Southeast Asia’s largest sporting event as the 2023 SEA Games with the motto ‘Sports: Live In Peace’ was officially opened in spectacular fashion here, tonight (May 5).
Hosts Cambodia staged an eye-catching opening ceremony in a blaze of colour, lights and fireworks at the Moroddok Techo National Stadium which was constructed specifically for the Games, seven days after the first event – cricket – kicked off.
The May 5-17 biennial sporting extravaganza began with the countdown ceremony from ten to one after about 75,000 spectators were entertained with a variety of performances from well-known singers, dancers, and artists to usher in the historical regional event.
Immediately after that, the glorious ceremony continued with 64 children parading the Cambodian flag which refers to the 64 years of the Kingdom waiting to host the 32nd edition of the SEA Games and the singing of the Cambodian national anthem that ‘rocked’ the stadium.
Spectators were then treated to a series of National March of Cambodia performances that told the history of Cambodia across the ages, which lasted for about one hour.
They then greeted the 11 participating countries with thunderous applause as the athletes and officials marched into the stadium in alphabetical order, starting with Brunei, as the Malaysian contingent were the fifth to march in.
The Malaysian contingent was represented by a delegation of about 42 people, including flagbearer R. Sharmendran, Chef De Mission (CDM) Datuk Mohd Nasir Ali and his two deputies, Datuk Shalin Zulkifli, Sharon Wee and the national petanque squad.
The Games was officially declared open by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, just after the Southeast Asian Games Federation flag-raising ceremony and an oath-taking ceremony read by athlete and competition judges’ representatives respectively.
This was followed by an incredible cauldron-lighting ceremony with 2014 Incheon Asian Games gold medallist in Taekwondo, Sorn Seavmey, given the honour before fireworks were let off illuminating the Phnom Penh night sky.
This SEA Games will serve as a launchpad for the postponed 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games scheduled this September before embarking on the 2024 Paris mission to bring home the elusive Olympic gold medal.