HERE WE GO: The SEA Games 32 officially opened in Cambodia on Friday. — VNA/VNS Photos Minh Quyết

PHNOM PENH — Tens of thousands of spectators on Friday turned out to watch the opening ceremony of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 32 – the first time Cambodia has hosted the regional competition.

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen gave the opening speech of the Games that was organised to the Olympic standard.

On behalf of the Vietnamese Government, Deputy Prime Minister Trần Lưu Quang attended the opening ceremony, along with leaders of ASEAN countries and Timor Leste.

The opening ceremony had three parts with sound and light performances spreading the message “Sports, live in peace.”

The event included familiar rituals such as the parade of 11 sports delegations, arbitrator’s oath, opening speech by the Prime Minister of Cambodia, and the ceremony of lighting the torch of the 32nd SEA Games.

The torch top modeled after the Romdoul flower, the national flower of Cambodia with a gilded design, has a height of 75cm, and weighs more than 1kg. The torch relay and torch lighting are considered unprecedented in scale at the regional games.

ENTERTAINMENT: Artists perform at the opening ceremony.

The event raised the message of peace, calling on everyone to participate in sports activities, calling for support for athletes and for solidarity with noble sports spirit.

The Games brings together more than 12,000 participants from 11 countries, taking part in 38 sports from May 5-17 in the capital city of Phnom Penh and four other localities, Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk, Kampot, and Kep.

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Việt Nam’s 1,003-strong sports delegation, including around 700 athletes, coaches, doctors and experts, has set its sights on triumph at the eagerly awaited SEA Games 32.

“Vietnamese athletes will compete with the national pride and highest determination at the SEA Games 32,” Việt Nam Chief-de-mission Đặng Hà Việt said.

Nguyễn Huy Hoàng was the flag-bearer for the Vietnamese delegation. The swimmer has in the past won five gold medals and broke two SEA Games records. With this achievement, he was voted the best male athlete at the Games 31 in Việt Nam.

FLYING THE FLAG: The Vietnamese team at the opening ceremony.

Other outstanding athletes, such as runner Nguyễn Thị Oanh and boxer Nguyễn Thị Tâm, have also proved their mettle on the international stage, clinching gold medals in previous SEA Games.

As the excitement builds ahead of the games, AFP Sport has selected eight outstanding athletes to watch out for, including Oanh and Tâm.

About Oanh, AFP said: “The 27-year-old runner won three Games golds on home soil last time, in the 1,500m, 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase. She will defend all three this time, across two grueling days.”

Meanwhile, Tâm won silver at the recent Women’s World Boxing Championships, to go with her gold at the last two SEA Games.

“She is another eyeing Paris qualification, having fought at Tokyo 2020,” AFP said.

Team Việt Nam has also made a mark on this year’s Games before the opening ceremony, securing a gold medal (though not yet officially awarded) in ouk chaktrang chess and three bronze medals in jiu-jitsu. — VNS

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