KUALA LUMPUR: Misery for Vietnam could be a blessing for Malaysia.
Vietnam has announced that it is pulling out as the host of the 2019 Asian Games in Hanoi due to economic pressures and ballooning operational costs.
In a statement released by the Vietnam government on its website on Friday, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said that the country would convey its decision to withdraw from hosting the Games to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) as soon as possible to facilitate the search for a new host.
Hanoi was awarded the hosting job in November 2012 after beating Surabaya 29-14 via a vote.
The country’s confidence of hosting the Asiad stemmed for its success in staging the 2003 SEA Games and 2009 Asian Indoor Games.
Vietnam had hoped to run the Games with an overall cost of US$150mil (RM485mil) but there were fears that the expenses could escalate to more than US$500mil (RM1.5bil) and the government is not prepared to spend that much.
Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) secretary-general Datuk Sieh Kok Chi said that it was unfortunate that Vietnam could not host the Games but understood their predicament.
He said that Malaysia may come to the rescue if asked by the OCA and if several conditions in hosting the Games are changed.
“Surabaya, who lost the bid (in 2012), may still be interested to host the Games. But if we are asked, we will not agree immediately. We will consider it if the OCA are ready to review the conditions,” said Kok Chi.
Malaysia did not put in a bid at the last bidding process because OCM were not too satisfied with the terms and conditions.
In fact, OCM president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja’afar had met with the OCA top guns in 2012 to discuss the bidding process to ensure that it would be a win-win situation for the host nation and the OCA.
“Tunku Imran had suggested some modifications relating to cost and profit-sharing but the discussion for a change in the terms and conditions was not successful,” said Kok Chi.
“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.”
Malaysia’s last attempts to host the 2006 and 2010 Asian Games fell through, resulting in Doha hosting in 2006 and Guangzhou the last one.
Vietnam had planned to host 36 sports at the 2019 Asian Games, 28 of which would feature in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.