Successful SEA Games possible springboard to Youth Olympics bid for Cambodia

The success of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games that closed in Phnom Penh, Cambodia last week has ignited hopes that the nation could one day host the Youth Olympic Games (YOG).

Opening Ceremony of the 32nd SEA Games Cambodia 2023 on May 5, 2023 (Photo: Cambodia 2023)
Opening Ceremony of the 32nd SEA Games Cambodia 2023 on May 5, 2023 (Photo: Cambodia 2023)

Reputed Olympic leader in the SEA region and Vice President of Thailand’s National Olympic Committee Supitr Samahito said Cambodia can leverage the experience of this month’s Games to host the Youth Olympics within ten years, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) reported.

“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,” she said.

Cambodia is already scheduled to host the Asian Youth Games in 2029. The next Youth Olympics were pushed to 2026 in Dakar, Senegal due to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced organizers to abandon 2022 plans. The next Youth Olympics available for bidding will take place in 2030.

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

She believes the Youth Olympics is a logical future step.

“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.”

The SEA Games proved Cambodia can handle a major multi-sport event. Cambodia 2023 involved more than 5,00 athletes and 11,000 delegates from 11 nations across 36 sports and one demonstration sport.

The Youth Olympics were inaugurated in 2010 in Singapore and the second edition was also staged in Asia when Nanjing, China hosted in 2014. Buenos Aires was the site of the 2018 YOG.

India, Thailand and Ukraine have previously discussed bids for a future Youth Olympics.

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.

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