— Published 3 March 2023

Etymological quarrel at the Southeast Asian Games

Controversy between Cambodia and Thailand, two months almost to the day of the opening of the 32nd edition of the Southeast Asian Games (SEA), planned in the first of the two countries (May 5 to 17, 2023). At issue is the naming of one of the most contested sports of the competition, Thai boxing. Host country of the event, Cambodia made it appear in the official documents under the name of Kun Khmer, justifying this decision by a historical reference, the discipline being according to him of Khmer origin. Thailand, on the other hand, claims that the sport belongs to it and therefore wants it to be called Muay Thai. The dispute between the two nations has reached very political proportions, even pushing the Cambodian Prime Minister to intervene personally. Samdech Techo Hun Sen called on Thursday, March 2, for the two sides to end their feud. “There should be reconciliation, he explained at a cultural event. If the SEA Games are held in Cambodia, the name of the event should be Kun Khmer. If they are held in Thailand, it should be called Muay Thai.” Samdech Techo Hun Sen also suggested that the two countries propose to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to include the discipline on the list of “common” intangible cultural goods. The Southeast Asian Games will be held next May in Cambodia for the first time in 64 years. The program of the event includes 37 sports and more than 600 disciplines.