They had been waiting a long time and finally got it! From December 2021, after almost 4.5 years of construction, Cambodia can finally enjoy the new national stadium, which was built with the great help of the Chinese.
Located in the northern suburbs of the capital, Morodok Techo National Stadium is from now on the largest sports venue in Cambodia. The previous national stadium, the 50,000-seat Phnom Penh National Olympic Stadium, had served the Asian country since 1964.
This ground is still operational, but is no longer used as a representative stadium. The new arena with a capacity of 60,000 seats was built between 2017 and 2021, with significant help from the Chinese government, which fully funded its construction.
© Maharaja45 (Wikimedia Commons)
Information on the completion of works was announced on August 16, 2021 and this date should be taken as the official end of construction. On September 12, a large delegation from the friendly country, including China's State Councillor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, attended the ceremony to mark the completion of the work.
On December 18, Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen, presided over the official opening ceremony in the presence of Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia, Wang Wentian. Between 15,000 and 20,000 people sat in the stands that day.
Chinese President Xi Jinping himself called Cambodian-Chinese relations an "iron-clad friendship", and the construction of the stadium by China State Construction Engineering Corporation is the result of this long-standing cooperation. Cambodia's Prime Minister also used some kind words and described the opening of the facility as "a national achievement".
Symbolism above all
The design was inspired by the theme of a sailing ship. Thong Khon, the Minister of Tourism, who is also the President of the National Olympic Committee, referred to the history in his speech, pointing out that the Chinese travelled to Cambodia in ancient times using this type of ships.
The total built-up area is as much as 82,400 square metres, of which the stadium itself, inscribed in a circular plan, covers more than 16 hectares. It is also worth mentioning the three-tier stands, which go into two storeys behind the goals due to the presence of huge “prows”.
The highest point of the stadium (99 metres) is marked by two pylons supporting the roof, located on the northern and southern sides of the venue. They are said to represent the sampeah gesture, which is used in Cambodia as a greeting or a form of showing respect.
Other elements of the structure also contain symbolic features. The facility is surrounded by an Angkor-style moat and the decorations refer to the rumduol flower, which is the national flower of Cambodia.
Just in time
The national stadium will not have to wait long to host major sporting events. For the first time in history, Cambodia will organize the Southeast Asian Games in 2023. The venue is suitable for both football matches and other sports, including athletics. The ASEAN Para Games will also take place in the same year, and in 2029 the stadium will host the Asian Youth Games.
According to various sources, a visually impressive and functional stadium was created for relatively little money. The costs vary between $150 million and $161 million. Morodok Techo National Stadium is not the only facility that was built on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
Five other sports arenas were constructed as part of the investment, including a 6,000-seat swimming pool and an indoor sports venue with a capacity of 15,000 spectators. All the above-mentioned facilities form Morodok Techo National Sports Complex.
Author: Robert Saganowski