Like most poor countries, you won’t read much about Laos when the Olympic circus sets up its tent. Laos has never won an Olympic medal or much else in the international sporting arena, but that doesn’t mean it’s a complete sporting black hole.

Lao has a few traditional sports sand these are as often an excuse for betting as thay are means of exercise. Kátâw and múay láo (Lao boxing) certainly do involve exercise – and these are taken increasingly seriously as international competition rases their profiles. Cockfighting, however, does not. Cockfighting follow the usual rules except that in Laos the cocks are not fitted with blades so often survive the bout. If you want to watch or not, keep your eyes and ears open, practically on Sunday and public holidays.

In ethnic Thai areas you might find the more off-beat sport of beetle fighting. These bouts involve notoriously fractious rhinoceros beetles squaring off while a crowd, usually more vociferous after liberal helping of lào – láo bets on the result. The beetles hiss and attack, lifting each other with their horns, until one decides it no longer wants to be part of this ‘entertainment’ and runs. If you bet on the runner, you lose. Beetle bouts are limited to the wet season.

Kids in Laos are likely to be seen chasing around a football (or at least something that resembles a football). Opportunities for pursuing football professionally are few, limited bay an almost complete lack of quality coaching, pitches, and youth leagues where players can get experience of proper competition. Laos does, however, compete in various regional tournaments, and on occasion you can see inter–provincial matches at the National-Stadium in Vientiane or modest stadias in provincial capitals.
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