Laos’ SEA Games Preparation Committee, under the chairmanship of Standing Deputy Prime Minister Somsavad Lengsavath, confirms that the construction of the new stadium outside the capital city of Vientiane is progressing on schedule and expected to be completed by the deadline of the 25th Southeast Asian Games that Laos is hosting in December 2009, although the country is facing many challenges. The Committee is confident of the on-time completion because the stadium is being built and funded by Chinese companies in exchange for a 1,600-hectare piece of land in the Thatluang marshland. The stadium, currently about 45% completed, will be able to accommodate over 25,000 spectators. Located in Saythani district on route 13 South, it will be the main venue for the games as well as the opening and closing ceremonies.
In addition to Chinese assistance, Laos is also receiving helps from Thailand and Vietnam in constructing or upgrading other necessary facilities and accommodations for the 25th SEA Games. For instance, Thailand is upgrading the existing stadium in the capital to be used as venues for soccer and tracks and fields instead of the ones in Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Champasack which Laos had originally planned to use as secondary stadiums. Similarly, Vietnam is building residences for athletes and sports delegations in the perimeter of the National University at Dongdok at an estimated total cost of US$19 million, of which US$4 million is a grant, while the rest is provided as a long-term loan. Upon completion, this residential project will be able to accommodate over 4,000 athletes who will participate in the competition in twenty five sports events.
Moreover, to prepare themselves as hosts of this largest regional sports event, Lao officials are putting great efforts in developing their human resources and upgrading their personnel to international standards. Trainings are being provided to over 400 referees to upgrade their skills. A large number of physicians are also receiving trainings, not only on how to take care of athletes and their delegations and address any health concerns that may arise, but also to test for steroids, according to a member of Laos’ SEA Games Preparation Committee, who adds that food is also an area of concerns that has to be addressed in order to prevent communicating diseases.
Listen to Songrit's report for more details in Lao.