NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Nov 25 (Bernama) -- The first gold medal in the 24th SEA Games will come from shooting's 50m Rifle Prone women on Tuesday, nine days before the official opening ceremony on Dec 6.
Chairman of the Technical Committee Dr Sakchai Thapsuwan said seven gold medals would be at stake on the opening day of shooting, being held early due to the Asian Championships, an Olympic qualifier to be held in Kuwait next month.
The event will be held at the Shooting Range and Clay Target Range of the Sports Authority of Thailand complex here. Shooting competition ends on Dec 3.
A total of 475 gold medals are at stake in this edition of the SEA Games involving 5,172 athletes and 1,967 officials.
The Southeast Asia's mini-Olympics will be held in this Nakhon Ratchasima province or known locally as Korat, located approximately 260km north-east of Bangkok, while Bangkok and Chon Buri will also host some of the 43 sports, as well as the Go and Kempo demonstration games.
During a tour of facilities here for local and foreign media, Dr Sakchai gave an assurance Thailand would do its best to ensure fair and clean Games despite previous experiences of biased judging allegations particularly in subjective sports like martial arts.
"It's normal for losers to complain about unfair judging. That is why we have international delegates as referees and judges to take care of their respective sports and to ensure fairness to all," he said.
Deputy Minister of Tourism and Sports Nat Intrapana also allayed fears of the Games Village at Suranaree University of Technology in Korat not ready to house athletes and officials.
"Work is going on schedule and we will put the final touches once the students vacate the premises for holidays. We have hired a company to do the cleaning work as well," said Nat, who is also a member of the International Olympics Committee (IOC).
Commenting on reports that the Vietnam Olympics Committee was dissatisfied with the games village, Nat said it was safe to stay in the games village, adding that even Thai badminton players and King Bhumibol Adulyadej's grand- daughter Princess Siriwanwaree Mahidol would be staying there.
"We are going to bring in new bedsheets, pillow cases, blankets and towels. If the princess is going to stay in the Games village, it has to be of good standard," he said.
Nat also assured Muslim athletes and officials that halal food would be prepared during the games, saying all utilities to be used are disposable and food would be prepared at the highest precaution level.
The opening ceremony will be held on Dec 6, a day after the 80th birthday anniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-reigning monarch.