Cambodia kicked off its first ever hosting of the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) on May 5, in a historical uproar of singing, dancing, flag-waving and fireworks. The opening ceremony of the 32nd SEA Games took place at the Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh. The biennial multi-sport event was first held in Bangkok in 1959.
The evening opening ceremony had athletes from across the region, and showcased the country’s rich history and thanking its leader for recent modernisation. Tickets to the Games have been given away for free, and the demand is huge. Inside the Morodok Techo National Stadium at the opening ceremony, all of the venue’s 60,000 seats were packed.
The main production, which was a presentation of golden finery, elegant costumes and warriors, told the story of the kingdom. Athletes presented the national martial art Kun Bokator, marking its debut at this year’s Games.
The leaders in attendance included the Prime Minister of Vietnam and the President of Laos. Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen Hun Sen entered the stadium to great applause. One of the world’s longest-ruling leaders, he spoke briefly, expressing his gratitude for peace in the country under his leadership and declaring the opening of the Games.
Events kick into full gear on May 6, with the Games running to May 17, before the Para Games in early June.