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Laos Gets Help From Regional Partners To Build SEA Games Venues

In the true spirit of Asean and its regional partners, debutant Laos is getting help from a host of countries in funding the construction of a dozen of stadiums and a games village for the 25th SEA Games in December.

The land-locked country and one of the least developed nation in South East Asia, is hosting its first ever SEA Games that also marks its 50th anniversary this year.

Vice-President of the Lao National Sports Committee (LNSC), Somphou Phongsa said Laos was grateful that its neighbours and other countries have stepped forward to help them organise the region’s mini Olympics.

“We initially planned to host the Games in three cities, but because of lack of fund and technical officials, the government decided to have it in Vientiane. All the stadiums will be completed by end of October or at least early November,” he said in an interview here.

Somphou said the crown in the jewel was the US$100 million National Sports Complex, located in Xaythany district about 16km from the capital, built and funded by the China Yunnan Construction Engineering Group and China Development Bank.

The fully-completed complex includes a 20,000-capacity main stadium which will host the opening and closing ceremony, as well as the venues for athletic and football.

It also has a swimming pool, tennis courts, a shooting range and two indoor stadiums.

Nearby, the Booyoung Company from South Korea is undertaking the construction of a 27-hole golf course on a 150 hectares site, with the now completed 18 holes to play host to SEA Games golfers.

Somphou, who coached the Laos football team that stunned Malaysia in the 1997 SEA Games, said more than 5,000 athletes and officials would be staying at the Games Village in the National University compound which would also host seven events.

Built by Vietnamese firm Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL), Vietnam provided US$4 million aid and another US$15 million interest-free grant for the US$19 million project that includes a 4,000-bed accommodation.

Somphou said an accreditation centre as well as offices for national Olympic committees, IT, results and transportation centres would be set up at the university.

A Malaysian firm, WSL MSC Sdn Bhd is providing the IT support for the Games.

The Japanese Government has provided a 602 million yen grant to build the Budo Centre, venue for karate and judo while the Korean firm Booyoung also gave US$300,000 to construct a taekwondo venue.

Olympic Council of Asia gave US$200,000 for the building of Olympasia Gymnasium which will host boxing while Thailand provided 84 million baht for the Beung Kha Nhong Sport Centre, the venue for Muay and shuttlecock.

Somphou also said that the Brunei government also chipped in by contributing US$1.7 million for the construction of a gymnasium and dormitory.

With most of the venues already completed, Somphou said several pre-games events have been scheduled to test all the facilities and broadcasting system, including a four-nation football tournament involving Laos, Malaysian, Thailand and Vietnam from Oct 2 to 6.

Laos, one of the founding members of the Games, is organising 25 sports which offer 383 gold medals.

The sports are athletics, swimming, archery, badminton, snooker and billiards, Muay, cycling, football, golf, judo, karate-do, sepak takraw, shooting, tennis, table-tennis, taekwondo, volleyball, wrestling, weightlifting, boxing, pencak silat, petanque, fin swimming, diving and shuttlecock.