Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has called for an end to the "pointless" bickering over whether traditional boxing should be called Muay Thai or Kun Khmer, the term used by Cambodians hosting the event at the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in May.
Gen Prayut was speaking during a visit to an activity organised by the Ministry of Culture at Government House's Santi Maitree building to publicise Muay Thai Day, which falls on Feb 6, before attending the weekly cabinet meeting.
The dispute over the name of the sport erupted when Cambodia, the host of the coming Southeast Asian Games, changed the name of the event from Muay Thai to Kun Khmer, reasoning the martial art originated from the Khmer culture even though the name Muay Thai may be better known around the world.
Charoen Wattanasin, vice-chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand, said the International Olympic Committee had not recognised the term Kun Khmer. The Thai Boxing Association would not send Thai boxers to compete.
The Cambodian side refused to back down. Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of the Cambodian Southeast Asian Games Organising Committee, reportedly said the host country had the right to change the name of the event to Kun Khmer.
He said Cambodia would retaliate by not sending fighters to Thailand when it hosts the 2025 games, and when the sport will be called Muay Thai.
Gen Prayut said, "Muay Thai has long been a part of Thai culture and we are proud of it. But it is not necessary for us to quarrel with anyone. Nobody can take away what belongs to us. No matter what other people may say, it should not develop into a conflict. Let us end the bickering."
The prime minister said there had been arguments about the name on social media. "Doing that is pointless. We know what is what," he said.
Gen Prayut took part in the promotion, demonstrating his boxing skills with Muay Thai fighters, livening up the atmosphere and drawing occasional loud cheers.