The History of SEA Games

The SEA Games is a biennial multi-sport event involving participants from 11 countries of Southeast Asia. It is under the regulation of the Southeast Asian Games Federation with supervision by the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Council of Asia.

The SEA Games owes its origins to the Southeast Asian Peninsular Games or SEAP Games, which was established in 1958 by six countries: Burma (now Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, Malaya (now Malaysia), Thailand and South Vietnam.

The first SEAP Games were held in Bangkok in 1959 with 12 sports and more than 700 athletes and officials. Singapore’s Tan Eng Yoon won the first gold medal in the 400m hurdles.

The SEAP Games was renamed to the SEA Games in 1977, when Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines joined the federation. East Timor was admitted in 2003.

The SEA Games has grown in scale and standard over the years, producing many regional and Asian champions and record-breakers in various sports.

The sports in SEA Games vary from edition to edition, depending on the host country’s preference and facilities. However, some of the common sports that are usually contested are:

  • Athletics
  • Aquatics
  • Badminton
  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Cycling
  • Football
  • Shooting
  • Table tennis
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Weightlifting

Some of the unusual or unique sports that have been featured in SEA Games are:

  • Bodybuilding
  • Chess
  • Dancesport
  • Kickboxing
  • Muay
  • Pencak silat
  • Pétanque
  • Vovinam

The year 2023 will mark a historic moment for Cambodia as it hosts the 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) for the first time. The SEA Games is a biennial multi-sport event that showcases the talents and achievements of athletes from 11 countries in the region. The event aims to promote cooperation, friendship, and understanding among the Southeast Asian nations. The 2023 SEA Games will feature 40 sports and 581 events, with an estimated 10,000 participants and officials. The games will be held from 5 to 17 May 2023 in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, as well as in other provinces. The motto of the games is “Sport Live In Peace”, reflecting the aspiration of the Cambodian people to live in harmony and prosperity.

Torch relay reaches Cambodia after touring 10 ASEAN nations, photo: BTV Cambodia

Following a special meeting chaired by Prime Minister Hun Sen, CAMSOC-CAMAPGOC announced an unexpected decision to waive the $50 per day meal and accommodation charge for sports delegations at the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games.


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