Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni lit up a torch for the upcoming 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games on Tuesday in front of the famed Angkor Wat temple.
After the torch relay, the fire god will be preserved in a special lamp at Wat Reachbo in Siem Reap to await the procession through ASEAN nations and East Timor from March 22 to April 27. It will depart from Siem Reap on March 22 for Hanoi in Vietnam, and then march through the nation to Laos before returning to Cambodia.
In the royal ceremony on Tuesday, which coincides with the equinox over Angkor Wat, two athletes, accompanied by seven martial artists, ran slowly from the east of Angkor Wat to receive the royal gift of fire from the King, according to the official Facebook page of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Then, the athletes, holding the torch received from the King, ran around the small circle of Angkor, the post said, adding that the torch will stay in Siem Reap for one day.
More than 10,000 delegates from Southeast Asians nations will take part in the SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games, which will be hosted in Cambodia in the next 45 days.
At the torch relay in Siem Reap, Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism and President of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC), said that based on preliminary figures, the total number of delegates is 11,453.
There are 82 from Brunei, 1,323 from Cambodia, 1,736 from Indonesia, 583 from Laos, 1,440 from Malaysia, 663 from Myanmar, 1,121 from the Philippines, 1,271 from Singapore, 1,855 from Thailand, 167 from East Timor, and 1,223 from Vietnam.
However, this will change when the number of delegates for each sport is finalized, he added.
“Participation of sports delegations from all nations in all sports is a sign of strength, unity, friendliness, and collaboration in the regional Olympics, and a tribute to supporting Cambodia on its approach to hosting the SEA Games-ASEAN Para Games 2023,” he said.
Tea Banh, Minister of National Defense and President of CAMSOC, said the event will raise Cambodia's profile and serve as a force for the world to better understand Cambodia's culture, civilization, tourism, economy, and society.
“Cambodia is prepared to host sports facilities, public infrastructure, sports resources, technical officials, referees, and coaches from all sports,” he said. “Also, the National Sports Federation is being strengthened across all sports and disciplines, with the support and decision of the Southeast Asian Sports Federation and the ASEAN Disability Sports Federation.”