China hands over Cambodia $150 million stadium

17 Sep, 2021 - 00:09 0 Views
China hands over Cambodia $150 million stadium Morodok Techno National Stadium.

eBusiness Weekly

Cambodia has received the keys to a brand new, $150 million stadium from China, the latest country to be gifted such a project as Beijing tries to build influence worldwide.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi formally handed over the Morodok Techno National Stadium, which China financed and started building in 2013, to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday, reported the Khmer Times.

At the handover ceremony, Wang said China funded the project because it was close friends with Cambodia, per the Times. Cambodia plans to use the stadium, located on the outskirts of capital Phnom Penh, to host the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in 2023.

The stadium was designed to look like a boat, with a 324-foot-tall structure on either end that resembles a prow and a stern. The design is meant to signify China and Cambodia’s relationship, because Chinese people used to sail by ship to Cambodia hundreds of years ago, Cambodian Tourism Minister Thong Khon said, according to Xinhua Net.

The shape of the “prows” also symbolizes the “Sampeah,” a traditional Cambodian greeting or show of respect where a person presses their palms together in front of their chest and bows, per Xinhua Net.

Surrounding the five-story stadium is a wide moat with fountains, paying homage to Cambodia’s iconic 500-acre Angkor Wat temple. Cambodian journalist Chhon Veasna, 39, posted a video on his YouTube channel “Family of Explorer” of the moat and stadium interior a day before the grand opening. He was able to get inside the stadium because he works for local media.

The building can seat 60,000 people and is kitted out with an international-standard football pitch, an Olympic-size swimming pool, and a running track, per the Khmer Times. It also has a training hall, indoor gym, and aquatics centre, according to the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee, and can host sporting matches like cricket, basketball, and badminton.

Construction of the stadium took 340 Chinese engineers and 240 Cambodian workers, according to the Khmer Times.

“These are just the early fruits harvested during this season of growth for the ‘ironclad’ Cambodia-China relationship,” Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the stadium’s handover ceremony, per the Phnom Penh Post.

Stadium diplomacy

China has been giving away infrastructure projects to developing countries in exchange for influence, under a plan it calls the “belt and road initiative.”

It has helped nations build airports, roads, and shipping lanes, but stadiums in particular have been one of its big-ticket items for decades. More than 100 stadiums in Asian, Latin American, and African countries have been built, designed, and financed by China, according to a 2019 report published in the Habitat International journal.

Some researchers have dubbed the tactic “stadium diplomacy.”

China has spent billions of dollars in aid, loans, and investments in Cambodia, and the two nations have maintained close ties for years. In June, Cambodia demolished and replaced two US-funded facilities at one of its naval bases, sparking concerns that China may be expanding its military presence there.

National Stadium designed with input from people with disabilities

The National Stadium, the main venue for the ongoing Tokyo Paralympics, was built with input from many parts of society, such as people with disabilities, to achieve a world-class universal design.

In the initial 2014 plan for the stadium by the late architect Zaha Hadid, there were 120 seats for people in wheelchairs, or 0,15 percent of capacity. The figure was significantly below International Paralympic Committee standards, but a revision was difficult as the basic design had already been done.

After Hadid’s design was scrapped for cost reasons in 2015, 14 groups such as those representing people with disabilities, older people and people raising children became involved in designing its replacement.

Twenty-one workshops were held through 2019 to create a design that meets the needs of all the groups.

For example, studded paving blocks are needed to help those with visual impairments but are often obstacles for people in wheelchairs.

The two sides’ needs were balanced by reducing the height of such blocks to 2,5 millimetres, half the usual level.

Five types of multifunctional rest-rooms and some 500 seats for people in wheelchairs were installed.

The stadium also includes a “calm down, cool down room” for helping people with intellectual and mental disabilities to relax.

“In a time of respecting individuals, what is important is not only the number of facilities (for people with disabilities) but also whether the design was made to be easy to use for all,” said Hisao Kawano, head of design for the National Stadium at Taisei Corp.

Kawano said that he learned many new things from the process of receiving input over the design of the National Stadium.

“The era of unilaterally imposing designs is over,” said Kawano, who has long been in charge of construction of stadiums at the general contractor. “Architects are now required to coordinate a variety of opinions.”

“In order to make a legacy, we need to make a system to share what we have learned (from the designing process) with the whole society,” said Yoshihiko Kawauchi, a researcher on universal design at Toyo University.
– Xinhua Net.


Share This:

Sponsored Links