The National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) has drawn up a master plan for the 2023 SEA Games, kick-starting official preparations to ensure that the country is ready to host the region’s most important sporting event, NOCC Secretary-General Vath Chamroeun said Monday.
Cambodia has yet to host the biennial competition, a dubious honor it shares only with regional minnow Timor-Leste. The government backed away from plans to hold this year’s games so that improvements to infrastructure could be made, before finally being confirmed as the 2023 host last year.
Mr. Chamroeun said government officials and representatives of Cambodian sporting bodies attended a seminar on July 23 to discuss key preparations. The next time the NOCC meets, he said, it will be to timetable the submission of its official plans to the Olympic Council of Asia.
“We had many issues to sort out, so we had to draw up a master plan that would bring together all the elements, and hopefully be passed to the Council of Ministers [for approval] as soon as possible,” he said.
“We have settled on the preliminary number of 35 sports, though we won’t decide what will be included or excluded until about 2020,” he added. “We will see then which sports have grown and which have fallen away.”
At the top of the agenda is upgrading Cambodia’s stadiums and training facilities, according to Mr. Chamroeun. Construction on the new 60,000-seat Morodok Techo National Sports Complex began two years ago in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changva district but is not due to finish until 2020.
Renovations are also underway at Olympic Stadium in Prampi Makara district, which Mr. Chamroeun said should be finished sometime next year—just in time for the first ever Cambodian National Games in 2016, a warm-up for the SEA Games.
He said the estimated cost of implementing the master plan is $35 million to $40 million, with each sport requiring about $1 million to organize and the possibility that five sports might be added to the bill.
Mr. Chamroeun emphasized, however, that this figure does not include infrastructure and non-sporting expenses. He refused to offer an estimation for the total cost of the games.
“We are talking huge money,” Mr. Chamroeun said, adding that transportation improvements would be handled by City Hall.
“But this is the dream of everyone, and it will improve our economy, our culture, our society, but especially our sport.”