Sunday, August 9, 2015

We shouldn't run before we can walk


Level Field

It is great to be ambitious but it would be much wiser to take baby steps instead of leaping ahead.
Olympic Council of Malaysia president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Jaafar's statement, at the recent 128th International Olympic Council session hosted by Malaysia, that a dual-city bid for the Olympic Games by Kuala Lumpur and Singapore is a possibility has attracted criticism from many quarters.
Under the IOC’s new 2020 agenda, which was unanimously approved in December last year, hosting duties for future games can now be shared by two countries.
Tunku Imran's suggestion was immediately met with opposition from both Malaysia and Singapore, which is not surprising.
Sport Singapore issued a statement saying there are no plans currently for a joint bid. “We note the IOC is now open to joint bids, and it is theoretically possible for two countries to host the Olympic Games. Singapore has no plans to do a joint bid at this juncture and has not received any formal proposal from Malaysia to look into this further.”
On this side of the Causeway, Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin was spot-on when he said Malaysia should first try to host the Asian Games.
While it is too late to enter a bid for the 2024 Olympics, both countries have the choice of considering bidding for the Games in 2028 or 2032.
This may be at least 13 years down the road but the process has to start now. Of course, millions will be spent on the process itself with no surety of proceeding to the final stage of bidding, not to mention the billions that will be needed to host the Games. Malaysia has not hosted the Asian Games, any world championship (other than the 1975 and 2002 World Cup hockey tournaments) or the Youth Olympics (unlike Singapore).

There are countless reasons why Malaysia should not bid for the Olympics just yet. The monetary implications aside (at least US$400 million), Malaysia has not won a single gold medal in the Olympics. So, to bring the games to our shores and probably win a couple of medals does not make economic sense at all.
The rationale is that the money could be put to better use, like raising the general standard of sports in the country.
Besides, hosting the Olympics is no guarantee that it would be a profit-making venture.
Suggestions that Asean countries should make a joint bid to share costs is not feasible and it is unlikely that IOC will accept such a proposition. For starters, the standard and quality of the host will differ from one country to another. Logistics, immigration, currency, the climate and many other factors could pose serious problems.
In Malaysia’s case, the government certainly is not in the right financial position to host the Olympics.
Yes, we hosted the 1998 Commonwealth Games but it is a different kettle of fish.
The Commonwealth Games consist of only 16 sports while the Olympics will have at least 28. Also, infrastructure and technical competence must be of the highest level.
Malaysia failed in their application for the 2006 Asian Games, which were held in Doha (Qatar) despite Kuala Lumpur having been the favourite to win. We failed again for the Asian Games of 2010 and the newly elected government did not support the bid for 2014.
Then in September 2010, the Cabinet decided not to go through with the bid to host the 2019 Asian Games and it was declared that Malaysia would not make any further bids due to financial constraints.
With the country is still trying to find its footing in most sports, let alone excel in them, it is best that any money is spent on development to give us hope of a brighter future.
It is pointless being a perfect host when we have nothing to show in terms of performance in the various sports.
So, let us start by winning medals, at least at the Asian level. Then, we could host an Asian Games or even a world championship for swimming or athletics, to name but a few, before we dream of the Olympics.

TONY MARIADASS is a sports
journalist with more than
three decades of experience
and is passionate about
local sports.
He can be reached at
Twitter: @tmariadass​

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