A few days ago Prime-Minister Hun Sen announced that the Kingdom was spending over $100 million on the SEA Games. Yet in a country where poverty is so rife should this ba happening at all?
To read if the Qatar World Cup was a success click here.
When it comes to hosting sporting events it seems few nations can do it without controversy, particular from the western world. Events such as the Olympics, World Cup and yes the SEA Games are supposed to be above politics, but alas politics has never been too far away over the last 20 years, or so.
Reasons for the controversies have varied, with China, Russia and most recently Qatar being critiqued mostly not adhering to western views of democracy, as well as treatment of various groups.
For Cambodia there are also the usual calls regarding democracy, but for many opposition figures it has boiled more down to the amount of money being spent. So, is it worth $100 million, or should it have been spent elsewhere.
Not Cambodia’s first time to shine!
What many do not realize about Cambodia is that before the brutal regime of the Khmer Rouge and before Lon Non had overthrown King Sihanouk, Cambodia was an important global, rather than regional player.
Sihanouk for his faults was renowned world leader and Cambodia was not only a major player in the non-aligned movement, but also managed to remain friends with both the global left and right, with his friendship with Kim Il-Sung of North Korea being particularly famous.
To read about the friendship between Kim Il-Sung and Sihanouk click here.
It was also during this time that Cambodia hosted its first international event, GANEFO, or the Olympics Of The Left in the late 1960’s, a time when if global players had acted differently things may have gone differently for the nation.
Of course what followed was almost 40 years of constant civil war.
A source of national pride
And this is where the straw man argument of “the money could be spent on better things” argument comes in. Theoretically yes, 100 million could go on X amount of schools, or hospitals, or just be given out to the poor, but how would that help Cambodia in the long run?
The reality is that when the regional and global community see Cambodia not only effectively put on an international tournament, but also show off all the great things about the Kingdom it will act as a massive PR post for the stability and business friendly nature of the Kingdom.
I truly am still amazed that when I talk to people about Cambodia they still either think the country is still at war, or is barely functioning. This is not only the nations chance to shine, but also for Cambodians to rightly take their place back on the global stage. And you will meet few Khmer unhappy about this proposition.
This article is adapted from BPVE SPORT Cambodia, reported and edited from the great team – Cambodia Sports Review.
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