The Morodok Techo National Stadium is set to stage the Cambodia 2023 Southeast Asian Games Opening Ceremony tomorrow ©Getty Images

More than 11,000 athletes, coaches and delegates from 11 countries, including the hosts Cambodia, are due to take part in the Southeast Asian Games which is scheduled to begin with the Opening Ceremony tomorrow and conclude on May 17.

Although the Chinese-built Morodok Techo National Stadium in capital Phnom Penh is hosting the ceremony which marks the official start of the Games, nine gold medals have already been claimed.

The region's best athletes will take part in sports such as athletics, swimming, badminton, and football as well as less well-known events. 

One of those is ancient Cambodian martial art Kun Bokator which has already seen the hosts win four golds as they top the medals table with five, following another triumph in ju-jitsu.

The Games will welcome elite athletes such as world bronze medallist pole-vaulter Ernest John Obiena and Asian champion weightlifter Vanessa Sarno, both from the Philippines.

However, their compatriot and Tokyo 2020 champion Hidilyn Diaz will not compete.

A total of 11 countries are set to take part at the Cambodia 2023 Southeast Asian Games ©Getty Images
A total of 11 countries are set to take part at the Cambodia 2023 Southeast Asian Games ©Getty Images

Another notable absentee is Singapore's Rio 2016 champion swimmer who pulled out in March saying he was "not at the level" to do his best.

Cambodian Tourism Minister Thong Kong hopes the Games will result in lasting benefits.

"The Games will not only promote sports but also boost Cambodia's tourism in the post-COVID pandemic era," said Thong Khon, who is also president of the country's National Olympic Committee.

Cambodia has never staged the Games before, in part because of violence and instability.

Prime Minister Hun Sen's Government is eager to use the event to show the country in a good light and improve public feeling to his leadership with two months to go until Parliamentary elections.

Hun Sen stated that China's $160 million (£127 million/€145 million) construction of the main stadium is a symbol of the "ironclad friendship" between the two countries.

The Cambodian Government claim that the cost of staging the Games, excluding the stadium, was $118 million (£94 million/€107 million).