Traveling along National Highway 5 north of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, tourists can easily spot a gigantic sailboat-like structure – the China-funded Morodok Techo National Stadium.
The 60,000-seat stadium will be the hub of tournaments when Cambodia first hosts the Southeast Asian Games (SEA) in May 2023.
Developed by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) under a grant from China, the project started in August 2017 and was fully completed last month.
A ceremony marking the handover of the stadium to Cambodia was held on September 12 in the presence of Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Modern and innovative design
Cambodian Tourism Minister Thong Khon, who is also chairman of Cambodia’s National Olympic Committee, said the stadium was a great achievement in the Kingdom’s sports sector and a new symbol of the unwavering friendship between the two nations.
The 39.9-meter structure is built in the form of a sailboat – with its two 99-meter-high prows – and is encircled by an Angkorian-style moat.
âThe sailboat symbolizes the long-standing traditional friendship between Cambodia and China because the Chinese used to travel by sailboat to Cambodia in ancient times,â Thong Khon said.
He said the prows of the sailboat-like stadium represent the gesture of “Sampeah” – the placing of the two palms together like a prayer in greeting or respect to the Kingdom – which truly reflects the Cambodian culture and tradition. .
Covering a 16-hectare plot in the 85-hectare Morodok Techo National Sports Complex, the five-story stadium was built with advanced technology and high-quality materials, Khon said.
âThe CSCEC was very responsible and used state-of-the-art technology for the construction of the stadium in full compliance with all technical standards.
“The stadium has a capacity of 60,000 seats, with a design that will allow a complete evacuation in seven minutes in the event of an emergency,” he said.
He added that QR codes have also been installed on each seat.
Located about 18 km from the center of Phnom Penh in the northern part of the capital, the stadium is home to a hotel, food courts, clothing and sports equipment stores and other facilities.
âThis will not only support the development of the sport, but will also serve as a magnet to attract tourists, especially Chinese guests, to Cambodia in the era of the post-Covid-19 pandemic,â Khon said.
The stadium is an important project between Cambodia and China under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), aimed at promoting sports, cultural exchanges and people-to-people contacts.
Speaking at the event, Hun Sen said the stadium was “the product” of close cooperation between Cambodia and China.
âThis is a new record for the unfailing friendship between Cambodia and China. Without China’s support, we certainly wouldn’t have this stage.
âI can say that this is just the fruit we harvested at the start of the season thanks to our unfailing friendship,â said Hun Sen.
Meanwhile, Wang said the stadium is the largest sports complex China has ever provided to a foreign friend with grants.
âWe built this beautiful big stadium in Cambodia because the friendship of our two peoples is very deep.
âI hope the Cambodian people and athletes enjoy their sporting events in this stadium, and I hope Cambodian athletes will make more achievements at the SEA 2023 Games,â he said.
Cambodian government chief spokesman Phay Siphan said the stadium clearly demonstrates China’s special focus on supporting Cambodia’s sports development.
âThe stadium will serve as an additional bridge to connect the hearts of the peoples of our two countries.
“It will also promote people-to-people links between Cambodia and the rest of the world, as it will bring together athletes and visitors from all over the world at major tournaments,” Siphan said.
Cambodian Football Federation secretary general Keo Sareth said the stadium not only gave new impetus to Sino-Cambodian relations, but also improved Cambodia’s image internationally.
âWe have wanted for a long time to build a modern and large stadium like this one. Now, with the support of China, our dream is coming true. This will promote Cambodia’s honor and prestige on the international stage, âSareth said.
National sprinter Pen Sokong, 28, said he admired China for funding the development of this magnificent stadium, saying it would be a great treasure for Cambodia.
“It is a source of pride for Cambodia because in our history we have never had such a big stadium,” he said.
Mao Pengfei and Nguon Sovan