CAMBODIANS held their heads high as the curtains came down on the 12th ASEAN Para Games tonight, marking an emotional conclusion after a week-long inspiring sporting show by the region’s para-athletes in 14 sporting events here.
The 12th edition of the Games, hosted for the first time in Cambodia, was officially proclaimed closed by Prime Minister Hun Sen at exactly 7.39 pm local time at the majestic Morodok Techo National Stadium here.
It was a memorable and colourful evening filled with music, sound, dance, colourful lights and shows of laser and splendid fireworks which captured the hearts of the 70,000 spectators and fans who had packed the stadium early in the afternoon.
Apart from elaborate and colourful performances displaying Khmer culture and the philosophy and essence of para sports, the colourful fireworks and state-of-the-art laser presentations, and the handover of the APSF Games flag from Cambodia to the next host, Thailand also caught the eyes of many.
Thailand will organize the 2025 Games in Nakhon Ratchasima, popularly known as Korat, in January 2026.
Over the week-long Cambodian Games which began on June 2, a total of 14 sports were contested, featuring some 1,428 athletes and 726 athletes (with 455 o them on wheelchairs) from all 11 Southeast Asian nations.
Media participation also exceeded earlier expectations with 1,738 journalists, photographers and broadcasters registering for the Games, including 110 from international and ASEAN media.
Live broadcast services were provided free without any broadcast rights which saw 14 television stations and five satellite television taking part to broadcast live coverage of all the 14 sports to the local as well as ASEAN audiences.
It was among the biggest participation in the Games’ history which saw Indonesia winning the overall title of the Games for the third consecutive time.
Indonesia racked up 158 gold, 148 silvers and 95 bronzes to emerge overall champions of the 2023 Games, way ahead of Thailand which competed their campaign in second with 126 gold medals, 109 silvers and 94 bronzes.
For detailed medal standing, go to: https://games.cambodia2023.com/#medalstanding
Vietnam came in third (66-59-78) while Malaysia, despite sending a majority of first-timers and young athletes, surpassed its target of 33 gold after clinching 50 gold, 38 silvers and 34 bronzes to place fourth overall.
Cambodia (8th overall) amassed a total of 71 medals with nine golds, 18 silvers and 44 bronzes
ASEAN Para Sports President (APSF) Major General Osoth Bhavilai praised Cambodia for successfully delivering the Games despite playing host for the first time.
“For the past week, we have witnessed a truly exciting show of courage and grit. CAMBODIA Cambodia, you have proved your true capabilities as host with the successful delivery of the first ASEAN Para Games in Cambodia, Congratulations!,” said Maj Gen Bhavilai.
“To athletes, you are all true winners! To all volunteers, you brought joy and the true meaning of passion and friendship! And to all spectators and the people of Cambodia, your support gave us strength to continue championing the cause of the disabled community through sports,” he added.
Hun Many, the Vice President of the National Paralympic Committee of Cambodia, also paid tribute to athletes and participants saying that their determination and performances should serve as examples to many.
The lowering and handing over of the APSF flag from Cambodia to the next host Thailand marked the start of another journey of the Games, this time in Korat (which last hosted the Games in 2008). The Korat Games will be held in January 2026 and are expected to feature 19 sports.
Hun Many handed over the flag to Maj Gen Osoth Bhavlai who then passed the flag to Paralympic Committee of Thailand President Lt. Naiyanobh Bhirombhakdi, marking the official handing over of the hosting duties to Thailand in 2026.
A performance by Thailand featuring the uniqueness of the province of Nakhonratchasima then followed amidst the loud cheers from spectators and fans at the Stadium.
All in all, it was a Games which will be remembered for long as among the best Games since its inception in 2001.
In promoting equality and inclusivity, the 12th ASEAN Para Games enjoyed the same privilege of “free Games” as the 32nd SEA Games 2023, where the government waived the expenses of food and accommodation for all foreign athletes, coaches and delegates, provides free tickets for spectators and accorded free live broadcast rights to local and foreign TV networks.