Costs of hosting Asian Games too high, say Malaysia

Sat Apr 19, 2014 1:25pm IST

REUTERS - Malaysia will consider replacing Vietnam as hosts of the 2019 Asian Games only if the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) help foot the bill, a top official at the country's Olympic body has said.

Vietnam withdrew Hanoi as hosts of the multi-sport event in a surprise move on Thursday, citing a lack of preparedness and concerns that holding the quadrennial spectacle for the first time would not prove financially viable for its recovering economy.

Prince Tunku Imran, the president of the Malaysian Olympic body, previously failed to persuade the OCA to modify the costs and profit sharing terms and any bid from the Southeast Asians was reliant on the Kuwait-based body showing some flexibility.

"I'm sure that if we reveal the OCA's requirements to host the Games, even the public will ask us not to host it because of the steep amount. It needs to be reviewed," Sieh Kok Chi, the secretary general of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), said in Saturday's Star newspaper.

"If we are asked, we will not agree immediately. We will consider it if the OCA are ready to review the conditions."

Hanoi was awarded the Games in November 2012 ahead of the Indonesian city of Surabaya with the cost of hosting the event, which had grown to consist of around 40 sports with athletes from 45 countries taking part, warning off many others.

Indonesian Olympic officials were cautious when asked if they were interested in rebidding, also citing concerns about the likely increased cost with less preparation time than originally budgeted for.

The shorter time frame ruled out Thailand, who have hosted the event a record four times since the inaugural one in India in 1951. Thailand will instead focus on bidding for the 2023 Games.

"It is only five years from now. It is too soon for us to prepare for the 2019 Games," Yutthasak Sasiprabha, president of the Thai Olympic body, was quoted as saying by the Bangkok Post.

Singapore International Olympic Committee member Ng Ser Miang told Reuters on Friday the city-state was not interested in bidding, leaving the previous two hosts China and Qatar as possible alternatives.

The OCA said they will name a replacement host during its general assembly on Sept. 20 in South Korea's Incheon, the hosts for this year's Asian Games.

The South Koreans will host a scaled back edition in September consisting of 36 sports and 13,000 athletes, who will use 49 competition and 54 training venues.

(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Patrick Johnston)

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