Cambodia 2023: Team Singapore begins historic SEA Games with pride
Team Singapore is represented by 558 athletes across 30 sports at the SEA Games in Cambodia. Photo: SNOC/Andy Chua
By May Chen
As Singapore’s contingent marched into the Morodok Techo National Stadium on Friday (May 5) evening, they were also walking into the history books.
While the SEA Games are a regular fixture in the region’s sporting calendar, this is the first time the biennial event is taking place in Cambodia.
The hosts were eager to put on a show from the get-go, especially given that the event is seen as a chance for the country to showcase the strides it has made in recent years.
For about an hour, dancers, singers and notable local artists put on a show aptly titled “Cambodia Journey”, telling the story of how far the kingdom has come in a colourful display.
The Games, now into its 32nd edition, is taking place merely a year after Hanoi after the 2021 Games were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Besides the capital of Phnom Penh, competition will also be staged in Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Kampot and Kep.
Singapore’s 558-strong contingent across 30 sports was represented by 50 athletes and officials. They were led by gymnast and flag-bearer Terry Tay who will be competing at his fifth Games. Chef-de-mission Dr Hing Siong Chen and assistant chefs de mission, Lim Tong Hai and Jasmine Yeong-Nathan, were also among those marching behind the Singapore flag into the 60,000-seat stadium.
Gymnast Terry Tay, the flag-bearer for Team Singapore at these Games, leading the contingent into the opening ceremony. Photo: SNOC/Lim Wei Xiang
“Bearing Singapore’s flag is an emotional experience,” said Tay. “I wish everyone could be here to experience the amazing people, performances, and atmosphere here at Morodok Techo National Stadium."
“It is actually my first time attending the SEA Games opening ceremony which makes it even more special - this is a memory which I will hold close to my heart.”
Even as temperatures seared at an average of 36 degrees Celsius over the past few days, competition on the sporting field has also been heating up.
Sports like cricket, indoor hockey and football got under way before the official opening, and Team Singapore is already poised for good finishes in events like sailing.
Overall, more than 11,000 athletes, coaches and delegates from Southeast Asia’s 11 nations will feature at the Cambodia Games, with the para-sports equivalent to follow in early June.
Venues are set to be packed, with tickets given out free. All schools and universities have also closed for a month for young fans to watch the events in person.
The performances during the opening ceremony were a display of Cambodian culture and pride. Photo: SNOC/Lim Wei Xiang
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen declared the Games officially open after the parade of 11 contingents was complete.
Sorn Seavmey, a taekwondo athlete who was Cambodia's first Asian Games champion, was then given the honour of taking the SEA Games flame from torch to cauldron.
Fireworks lit up the Phnom Penh sky over the Morodok Techo National Stadium, a facility built in the shape of a sailing boat, while the Games anthem “Cambodian Pride” rang across the arena.
An apt and symbolic imagery, given how the Games will be the vessel carrying the aspirations and hopes of the region’s sporting best.
The 32nd SEA Games are held in Cambodia from 5 to 17 May 2023. For the latest Team Singapore coverage and news, follow Team Singapore on their social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok) or visit the official Team Singapore website.