By Nick Butler at the Karon Central Beach Volleyball venue in Phuket

Thailand's Minister of Tourism and Sports Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul greets OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah this morning ©Phuket 2014Dealing with heavy rain and strong tides has been a major challenge ahead of the Asian Beach Games, Thailand's Minister of Tourism and Sports Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul admitted to insidethegames here this morning.

The Minister, who took up her post in August as part of a military-led Government headed by Prayut Chan-o-cha, said she could not claim credit for the success of the event as a team had worked very hard for the past two years.

They faced the added difficulty of so many things being out of their control, such as tidal conditions and the unseasonably high volume of rainfall, she added, before insisting that hosting the Games is a "real honour" for Thailand.

The Games, which officially begin with an Opening Ceremony this evening, come in a year in which Thailand has also faced unprecedented political and social upheaval. 

In May the Constitutional Court ordered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and several ministers out of office following several months of protest, which were only brought to a halt due to a military takeover legalised by the installation of Chan-ocha's Government.

At one point, it was feared the Asian Beach Games may have to be moved to a new location due to the instability, only for the tension to ease over the last three months. 

Sheikh Ahmad and Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul following a ju-jitsu medals presentation this morning ©Phuket 2014Sheikh Ahmad and Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul following a ju-jitsu medals presentation this morning ©Phuket 2014

Wattanavrangkul was speaking here this morning ahead of the arrival of Olympic Council of Asia President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah for under 90 kilogram and open weight ju-jitsu medal presentations, with both golds awarded to Faisal Alketbi of United Arab Emirates 

The two officials greeted each other and spoke briefly beforehand, with Sheikh Ahmad, also the Association of National Olympic Committees head, praising Phuket for the "amazing beauty" of its beaches.

This came shortly before Thailand added two more gold medals to its tally today, with the men's beach flag football team beating Kuwait 58-39 in the final, before Peera Chaisongkram won the men's fairway competition in woodball. 

"I think the Thailand athletes delegation should finish top two in the medal standing," added Wattanavrangkul.

"We also stand a chance of landing the overall titles in the 4th Asian Beach Games on home soil.

"However, I would like the Phuket residents and the Thais from all walks of life to be a good host and create impression among all visitors."

As well as the weather and sporting success, another concern will be the safety of all athletes, and officials present, following the murder of British tourists, Hannah Witheridge and David Miller, on the island of Koh Tao, 285 kilometres to the north-east of Phuket, in September.

Wattanavrangkul has promised visitors attending the Asian Beach Games that they will be safe, with extra security measures introduced and local people being mobilised to offer support.

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