Nikkei Asia Roasts SEA Games in Cambodia – But Is it Fair?

SEA Games in Cambodia

Nikkei Asia, a Japanese based news organization has lambasted the 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia as “a mess”, quoting workers and athletes. Do they have a point, or is it simply Cambodia bashing?

You can read the original article here.

Ticketing issues

The first and main point they have brought up is that of ticketing and that some people have not been able to get them for football matches (most events have yet to start). Now in fairness this can very well only mean matches that Cambodia have played in, which have all been sold out.

All other games have for the most part not filled the stadiums, which includes women’s matches. This is because the organizers choose that all tickets would be free as Cambodians had already “paid for them and of Cours games involving Cambodia are popular. There is no conspiracy, it is just mathematics.

So, yes the ticketing is not perfect, but quite simply some tickets are hard to get, whilst others are easy, like anywhere else in the world….

Does it work perfectly, no of course not, but the Khmers should not be criticized for trying to provide not just for their people, but also visiting fans.

“Some” athletes are worried

The second issue is that some (unnamed) athletes are worried and that “some” workers have had to put in grueling hours to get things ready. On the first point, the games have only just begun and it is too early to say how things like athletics will function.

We can though see that if football and the other sports that started early are anything to go by then things are running very smoothly. I have personally met football teams at the Phnom Penh Hotel and I am not aware of athletes that have yet to suffer.

To read 5 things we learned click here.

And as for the woolens? Working long hours to finish off stadia and the like is not new, it is path of the course. Remember Qatar? In Cambodia the stories are of workers doing extra hours, not thousands of Indians dying of heat stroke. Some context here is very much needed.

Cambodia is still a developing country

ASEAN might have countries like Singapore, or Malaysia, but we are neither economically, culturally, or from an infrastructural point of view. Expectations need to be managed with regards to what can and will be provided.

And this is of course the first major event Cambodia has hosted since the 960’s, this is our first foray back into the sporting host arena and that really should be remembered.

To read about GANEFO click here.

So for now at least to the naysayers from developed countries trying to dig up a story on Cambodia, please shut up. Let’s see the athletes do the talking on the field of play and let Cambodia have its deserved chance to shine in the sun.

This article is adapted from BPVE, ( reported and edited from the great team – Cambodia Sports Review. (
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