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Joint bid for Asian games mooted

SINGAPORE — Staging the world’s second biggest multi-sport event might be too costly for Malaysia, but Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) President Tunku Imran Jaafar believes a joint-bid with Singapore to stage the Games in 2019 is a “feasible” idea.

Joint bid for Asian games mooted

The 16th Asian Games, which was held in Guangzhou, cost the city around US$20 billion. Photo: Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Staging the world’s second biggest multi-sport event might be too costly for Malaysia, but Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) President Tunku Imran Jaafar believes a joint-bid with Singapore to stage the Games in 2019 is a “feasible” idea.

Last month, Vietnam’s government withdrew its capital Hanoi as hosts of the 2019 Asian Games just 17 months after it was awarded hosting rights by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).

The OCA is expected to decide on the new hosts during this year’s Asian Games in the South Korean city of Incheon from Sept 19 to Oct 4. However, with spiralling costs involved, many countries are apprehensive at throwing their names into the hat to replace Hanoi as hosts.

But speaking after the South-east Asian (SEA) Games Federation meetings in Singapore earlier this week, Tunku Imran told TODAY a joint-bid — which if successful will be the first Asian Games held in two countries — from Malaysia and Singapore could work.

“If you ask me if Malaysia would be interested to step in, I would say no. But a joint Singapore and Malaysia bid, if the Olympic Council of Asia, allows it, would be feasible. It would be too costly for Malaysia and Singapore to do it alone. But a joint Singapore-Malaysia bid would be feasible,” said Tunku Imran, who is also Malaysia’s International Olympic Committee member.

“We all know how expensive it is to host an Asian Games of such magnitude. But with Malaysia and Singapore combining their resources, we might be able to handle it. Kuala Lumpur has the Bukit Jalil Sports Complex and Singapore will have their new Sports Hub and in between Johor Baru can offer some venues.”

National Sports Council of Malaysia Director General Zolkeples Embong added: “Right now I don’t think Malaysia is in a position to host the 2019 Asian Games. There aren’t enough venues which are of world class standard. And the cost of building new ones would be too much too bear. And I don’t think Singapore would want to be host it either.”

From its inaugural edition in New Delhi in 1951, where 489 athletes from six sports and 11 nations competed, the Asian Games has since grown into the second biggest multi-sport event behind only the Olympics.

The upcoming Games in Incheon will have 36 sports and about 13,000 athletes, will use 49 competition ad 54 training venues.

South Korea will reportedly spend US$1.62 billion (S$2.03 billion) to stage this year’s Games in Incheon, while estimates for Doha (2006) and Guangzhou (2010) were S$2.8 billion and US$20 billion, respectively.

Last week, Vietnam’s government withdrew Hanoi as hosts of the 2019 Asian Games just 17 months after it won the bid.

Apart from a lack of experience and concern that Vietnam’s image would be affected if the Games were a flop, the high costs were another major reason cited by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung for pulling the plug. Organising the Games would have cost Vietnam between about US$300 million, which includes building of new facilities and infrastructure.

“There is also the profit sharing formula between the OCA and the host city. It leans far too heavy in OCA’s favour. This puts a financial burden on a potential host,” Tunku Imran added.

So far, Singapore has played down talk of bidding to stage an Asian Games, with Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) vice-president Ng Ser Miang stressing the Republic is focused on hosting next year’s SEA Games well.

SNOC secretary-general Chris Chan added: “Only the Singapore government can decide if it wants to make a bid to host the Asian Games.

“Personally speaking, I don’t think a joint bid is workable. There are far too many problems, such as logistics and operations, if two separate countries are involved.”

ASIAN GAMES: THE NUMBERS:

— First held in New Delhi in 1951, where 489 athletes from six sports and 11 nations competed.

— The most recent edition was held in Guangzhou in 2010, where an estimated 9,700 athletes from 45 nations competed across 476 events in 42 — sports.

— Revenue for the 2010 Asian Games was projected at around US$450 million.

— This year’s Asian Games in Incheon is set to see 36 sports and about 13,000 athletes, and held across 49 competition ad 54 training venues. South Korea will reportedly spend US$1.62 billion to stage the Sept 19 to Oct 4 meet.

— The 2006 Doha and 2010 Guangzhou Games were estimated to cost S$2.8 billion and US$20 billion respectively.

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