Cambodian officials are confident that competitors at the Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia will return home when the competition is over—unlike what occurred in Canada in July.
Ten athletes and 11 artists have still not returned from Canada, where they took part in the IV Games de la Francophonie in Ottawa, said Bou Chum Serey, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. Nearly 3,000 artists and athletes met in Canada during the games, representing 52 countries and governments that share French heritage or culture.
Canada has not officially confirmed whether the Cambodians requested asylum after the event ended July 24. “The Canadian law states that the identity of people seeking asylum cannot be revealed for the security of applicants,” said Canadian ambassador Normand Mailhot.
The Canada case was unusual, Bou Chum Serey said. Most of the athletes who went to Ottawa had returned home from earlier trips to the US and Australia, he said. But many had friends and family in Canada who could urge them to stay behind, he said.
The Cambodian delegation to Malaysia will consist of 112 people, less than originally planned due to budget considerations. Football competition began Saturday. Cambodia lost 7-0 to Thailand in its opener and managed a 0-0 draw with Burma on Monday.
The rest of the Games will be held Sept 8-16.