The 24th SEA Games, themed Spirit, Friendship and Celebrations and featuring 43 sports that offer a total of 475 gold medals and two demonstration sports, will officially open today in Thailand’s Korat and last until Dec 15.
About 7,000 athletes from 11 countries of the Southeast Asian region will get together for the opening ceremony, to take place at the newly-built stadium named “His Majesty the King’s 80th Birth Anniversary Main Stadium” in Korat, Thailand.
The Thailand Olympic Committee had planned the hosting of the biggest sporting event in ASEAN to coincide with the commemoration of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s birthday celebrations yesterday.
All the 10 members of ASEAN – Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Brunei – and Timor Leste, which joined the SEA Games family in 2003, are participating.
The Games are being hosted in three main venues – Korat, Bangkok and Chonburi (Pattaya), just like the 2005 SEA Games hosted by the Philippines at Manila, Cebu and Bacolod. Most of the action will be in Korat where 30 of the 43 sports are scheduled while Bangkok hosts nine – bowling, lawn bowls, polo, futsal, baseball, handball, hockey, shooting and squash.
Though the Games officially open today, some sports like shooting, men’s and women’s football, table tennis, gymnastics and sepaktakraw had started very much earlier.
Thailand are hosting the SEA Games for the sixth time after having had the honor in 1959 (inaugural SEAP Games), 1967, 1975, 1985 and 1995.
The host of the 2005 SEA Games, the Philippines, won 113 gold medals to emerge overall champions and Thailand is hoping to emulate a similar feat as they have set a 150-gold target.