Thai sports authorities say the official visit to Laos in late January by Thailand’s new Prime Minster, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, marked a significant step in the expansion of Thai-Lao cooperation in the area of sports development, since Mr. Abhisit has told Thai sports authorities and assured Lao officials that his government will provide its utmost support to Laos in hosting the 25th SEA Games at the end of 2009 in Vientiane Capital. The Thai government is not only assisting Laos in constructing a multi-purpose indoor sports facility in Vientiane, but it has also agreed to help Laos develop human resources in this sector including referees and coaches, and agreed to provide complete sets of sports equipments as well as training in managing and organizing sports competitions.
Lao officials say their preparations for hosting the 25th SEA Games, which started in late 2007, are on track. The construction of the new stadium in the Vientiane suburb of Saythany district, at KM 18 on Route 13 South, under the assistance of China, is over 80% completed and is expected to be ready for the handover to the Lao government in March 2009.With a capacity to accommodate more than 20,000 spectators, the new stadium will be the main venue for the games as well as the opening and closing ceremonies.
The number of sports to be competed in the 25th SEA Games has been reduced to 25. That is 17 less than the previous or the 24th SEA Games which was hosted by Thailand. Lao authorities attribute the reduction to insufficient sports facilities as well as human resources needed, including referees. Laos says it now has more than 200 referees, but they still need more training to meet the standards of the Asian Sports Federation.
For more details in Lao, click on our audio files.
(English translation of Songrit's report by Buasawan Simmala and Dara Baccam)