Members of the Wild Boars soccer team during a public discussion in Bangkok, Thailand, yesterday. AP/African News Agency
It was show time yesterday for the 12 boys and their 25-year-old soccer coach who were trapped for almost three weeks in a flooded cave in Thailand as they spoke at a public exhibition in one of Bangkok’s largest malls.

That was just the start of the day for the small-town kids in the big-city capital.

Later they were guests of honour at a gala hosted by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his wife to honour those involved in the dangerous and dramatic rescue of the members of the Wild Boars soccer team.

The exhibition, where the boys spoke to the public, featured a reproduction of the cave with simulated sounds of water dripping.

Equipment used by rescuers and other items were also on display.

Psychologists had recommended that the boys be given a six-month respite after their rescue in July for the sake of their mental health. But Thailand’s military government, eager to share the glory of the good-news story, has trotted them out for public appearances and interviews.

Other efforts to promote their story have included construction of a museum and the anointing as a national hero the former Thai navy Seal who died while diving in the cave to deliver oxygen tanks.

One exception to the feel-good vibe has been the feud between American tech entrepreneur Elon Musk and a British caving expert, Vernon Unsworth, whose advice and experience were considered crucial to the rescue operation.

Unsworth had criticised as boasting a well-publicised effort by Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, to lend a custom-built mini-submarine to the rescue effort.

Musk responded on Twitter with comments implying that the Briton was a paedophile.

The matter was revived last week, when Musk - asked about the threat of a libel suit - doubled down on his accusations, suggesting in emails that Unsworth was a “child rapist” and had moved to Thailand to take “a child bride who was about 12 at the time”.

He provided no evidence.

Musk, whose seemingly erratic behaviour on other matters has drawn concern from investors, also told BuzzFeed in coarse terms that he hoped Unsworth sued him.

Unsworth, who attended yesterday’s gala reception, declined to comment on matters pertaining to Musk.

Deputy government spokesperson Weerachon Sukhondhapatipak, who has been organising the boys’ appearances, responded with concern to Musk’s comments highlighting Thailand as a destination for sex tourists. Today, the boys were scheduled to tour Grand Palace, a major destination for tourists. AP/African News Agency