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VIENTIANE - Thousands of university students from 11 countries came together in Laos' capital of Vientiane on Wednesday to take part in the 16th ASEAN University Games (AUG), which will be held around Vientiane from Dec 12 to 20.
It will be the first time the biannual AUG is hosted by Laos since it began in 1981. The last games where held in Thailand in 2010. Laos first joined the games in 2006.
This year's AUG features university students from Laos, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam. Timor Leste is permitted to participate, despite not being a member of ASEAN. They applied for ASEAN membership in 2011 and are still in the process of joining.
At this year's event, students will compete in 17 sports, including aquatics, athletics, archery, basketball, badminton, various martial arts, table tennis, tennis, and football.
The opening ceremony, held in Laos' National Stadium, featured a torch relay, cultural performances, and an athlete's parade. The Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong attended the ceremony and officially opened the games.
"It is indeed a great privilege for our university and teaching staff and students to host such a grand regional event for the first time,"said Lao Minister for Education and Sports Phankham Viphavanh while addressing the ceremony.
The theme of the 16th AUG is 'We are ASEAN family'."The competition aims at creating goodwill, spiritual solidarity, amity and peace among student athletes," Viphavanh said.