Myanmar cools talk of 2019 Asian Games bid

Myanmar cools talk of 2019 Asian Games bid
From left: Myanmar Deputy Sports Minister Zaw Winn and Khin Maung Lwin, Joint Secretary General of Myanmar Olympic Committee, have downplayed talk that Myanmar could bid to host the 2019 Asian Games after Vietnam relinquished hosting rights. Photo: Low Lin Fhoong.
Published: 4:12 AM, April 29, 2014

SINGAPORE — Myanmar appears unlikely to replace Vietnam as host of the 2019 Asian Games, despite having ambitions of becoming a major player in the continent’s sporting landscape.

Speaking to TODAY after the SEA Games Federation Committees meeting at Swissotel the Stamford last night, Myanmar’s senior sports officials said while the country, which staged last December’s SEA Games, is well-equipped to take over the hosting of the Asiad, numerous challenges remain in organising the world’s second largest multi-sports event after the Olympics.

“If we have a choice the authority will agree (to host the Games), and our athletes are ready,” said Deputy Sports Minister Zaw Winn.

“But there needs to be serious consideration for such a big event as we have many things happening this year after taking over the ASEAN chairmanship.”

Added Khin Maung Lwin, Joint Secretary General of the Myanmar Olympic Committee: “While we have enough facilities and infrastructure, we have shortcomings in expertise and manpower to organise such a big Games and it is quite a heavy task. The SEA Games has 11 countries, but the Asian Games has 45 countries. It is too early for us to host the 2019 Asian Games.”

Earlier this month, the Vietnamese government announced Hanoi was withdrawing as host of the 2019 Asiad, citing the economic recession, budgetary constraints and concerns that the country’s reputation could be damaged if the event was a flop for pulling the plug.

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) is expected to decide on the new host city on Sept 20 during the Asian Games in Incheon. The United Arab Emirates, China and Japan have been cited as possible hosts, while the Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung will spend a month evaluating the possibility of organising the Games.

Surabaya, which lost the 2019 vote to Hanoi two years ago, is another favourite, but Indonesia Olympic Committee Chairwoman Rita Subowo has questioned if the government will have enough time to prepare.

The Asian Games were to have cost Vietnam about US$300 million (S$377 million), while this year’s Games (Sept 19-Oct 4) will reportedly cost South Korea US$1.62 billion.

The costs have proved a deterrent for many, with Malaysia willing to consider stepping in only if OCA helped foot the bill, while Thailand is not keen.

Yesterday’s SEA Games Federation Committees meeting also saw the number of events at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore finalised at 402 gold medals across 36 sports, up from the original 336 golds from 30 sports. LOW LIN FHOONG