Laos on track for SEA Games with help from friends

Posted by samakomlao Thursday, July 17, 2008

Laos says it is on track to host it's first ever international sports event, next year's South East Asian Games, thanks to international help.

China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and the Olympic Council of Asia have come to Laos's rescue to ensure the Games go ahead.

Laos Olympic chief, Somphou Phongsa, says the impoverished nation is up to the task, with facilities 60 per cent ready.

Although only a minor event on the sporting calendar, the SEA Games is taken as seriously as the Olympics by the 11 competing countries, most of which are historic foes.

Some nations are unhappy the communist country was awarded the Games, and are furious that the number of sports was slashed from 43 to 25, with obscure disciplines like Muay Lao, pencak silat, wushu, petanque and kempo replacing traditional sports like gymnastics, archery, cycling and weightlifting.

China has provided more than $100 million to construct a 20,000-seat stadium and is building two indoor stadiums, a tennis centre and the country's first Olympic-sized swimming pool.

South Korean companies are financing a taekwondo centre and a 27-hole golf course and Japan was funding a judo venue.

Thailand last month pledged $2.9 million and will train officials in 12 sports, while neighbouring Vietnam has put up $19 million to build eight 10-storey apartment blocks for athletes.

Singapore has offered computer technicians and English teachers to educate volunteers and staff, most of which will be local university students.

The Games take place in December 2009 and will be contested by Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Burma, East Timor, Brunei, Cambodia and Vietnam.


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