The South-east asian (SEA) Games, which begin in Cambodia on May 5, will be contested by just 11 countries. But with 581 medals at stake – nearly twice the number won at the last Olympics – they can claim to be the world’s biggest sporting event. Athletes will compete on the track, in the pool and in less traditional ways – including obstacle racing, jet-skiing and dance.
The inclusion of such obscure sports (loosely defined) is a SEA Games tradition. Hosts of the event, first held in 1959, have considerable discretion over its roster. Some of their selections reflect a desire to develop a sport. For instance, at the insistence of Cambodia’s fledgling cricket body, that sport, which is hardly played in the region, will feature for just the second time in the upcoming games. But the inclusion of an obscure sport is more often explained by the host’s hunger for medals.
Cambodia is no sporting powerhouse. At the last SEA Games it won 63 medals (ahead only of Brunei, Laos and East Timor). It has little chance of competing with its bigger, richer neighbours in most mainstream sports. The easiest way to boost its medal count is to hold events for which there is little or no competition. So the coming games will also showcase ouk chaktrang, a Cambodian version of chess, and kun bokator, a local martial art.
In full: https://www.afr.com/companies/sport/probably-the-world-s-largest-sporting-event-is-happening-in-cambodia-20230502-p5d514