Cambodia can target IOC’s Youth Olympic Games, says Thai official

The Sports Village for athletes in Phnom Penh. © OCA
The Sports Village for athletes in Phnom Penh. © OCA

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, May 17, 2023: One of Asia’s most respected sports leaders believes Cambodia can build on the success of hosting the 32nd Southeast Asian Games and target the IOC’s Youth Olympic Games within the next 10 years.

This is the view of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Supitr Samahito, Vice President of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand, who has vast experience of the Olympic movement in the SEA region and Asia.

“I believe it is a step-by-step process,” she told the OCA on the morning of May 17 – the day of the closing ceremony of the 32nd SEA Games.

“This is the first time for Cambodia to host the SEA Games and I believe they have the sports facilities, the stadiums and the gymnasiums to continue this development. The way they have managed all aspects of the Games, such as transportation and especially the Sports Village, has been very impressive."

Cambodia is already signed up to host the OCA’s Asian Youth Games in 2029, following Tashkent, Uzbekistan in 2025, and Dr. Supitr feels they can go on to bigger things.

“The Asian Youth Games in 2029 will be very good for Cambodia because now they have this good experience from the SEA Games,” she added.

“They have learned a lot from this first-time hosting, and the Asian Youth Games is still six years away so they have time to prepare and to train their people. After that they can think about the Asian Games and also an IOC event such as the Youth Olympic Games.

“The Youth Olympic Games involves only around 3,000 athletes so this is a good-sized Games for Cambodia to host. They can be looking to do that in the future, maybe in 10 years. The sports venues are enough and they will be well prepared.”

Asia hosted the first two editions of the IOC’s Youth Olympic Games, in Singapore in 2010 and Nanjing in 2014, and the fourth YOG will be in Dakar, Senegal in 2026. There is no host nation for the summer YOG beyond Dakar.

Cambodia has hosted over 5,000 athletes from the 11 SEA nations and almost 11,000 delegates in total during the SEA Games, which has featured 36 sports and one demonstration sport.

Dr. Supitr said her best memory would be the well-trained volunteers and also the torch relay which began at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap and toured all other 10 SEA countries before arriving back in Phnom Penh for the opening ceremony on May 5.

“I really love that idea,” she said. “Taking the torch relay around southeast Asia. I will propose this to the organising committee of the 33rd SEA Games in Thailand in 2025.”