Thailand has threatened to boycott the SEA Games 2023 to be held in Cambodia over the host nation’s decision to rename the kickboxing event.
Thai PBS reports that the International Federation of Muaythai Associations (IFMA) will not send athletes to participate, as well as announcing a ban on countries that send athletes to the upcoming SEA Games.
The IFMA says it will prohibit those countries from competing in some sports programs of the World Games, Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, and Muaythai World Championships.
The row came to a head following official confirmation of Cambodia’s decision to replace “Muay” with “Kun Khmer” to satisfy Cambodian fans, according to the Phnom Penh Post.
Vath Chamroeun, Secretary-general of the Cambodian SEA Organizing Committee (CAMSOC) and National Olympics of Cambodia (NOCC), told the Phnom Penh Post that the decision was in line with public opinion.
“We have told the committees that we will replace the term ‘Muay Thai’ with ‘Kun Khmer’ when we host the games. We do not care what anyone thinks, we have made it clear that, as hosts, we will use Kun Khmer,” he said.
The decision to remove “Kun Khmer (Muay)” was made after the Cambodian SEA Games Organizing Committee was criticized for not being patriotic enough to promote “Kun Khmer” in 2022.
Fans from both Cambodia and Thailand have argued that the kickboxing martial art originated in their respective countries.
“We have taken the position that using “Kun Khmer” will avoid confusion. As the cultural owners of the martial art, and as hosts, we have worked hard to fulfill our desire to use the phrase at the games,” said Chamroeun.
The Cambodian Boxing Federation will regulate rules for the sport with its judges and referees in collaboration with international officials.