With Japan winning the bid to host the 2020 Olympics, the next earliest date for another Asian country to host the Games is almost two decades away. Will Malaysia be ready to host the Olympics or other major sports events like the World Cup by then? Our sports writers and senior sports officials in the country share their views.
Yes, we can host the Olympics in the future
IT is an unwritten rule that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will not consider a bidding city from the same continent that has previously hosted the Olympics for the next two or three editions.
Thus, with Japan hosting the world’s biggest sporting spectacle in 2020, it will not be staged in Asia again until 2032, or possibly even 2036.
For example, Seoul hosted the 1988 Olympics, and it was only 22 years later that it returned to Asia – at Beijing 2008.
But the question here is whether Malaysia will be able to host an Olympics in the future.
I think we can, maybe 15 to 20 years down the road, and it is not just about the “Malaysia Boleh” spirit.
By then, we would have achieved developed nation status (think Vision 2020) and we should have the know-how in terms of infrastructure and technical expertise to host a multi-sports event of this magnitude.
Malaysia actually made a bid – one of 10 countries – to host the 2008 Olympics following the success in hosting the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Applicant cities are evaluated on 11 criteria — government support and public opinion, general infrastructure, sports infrastructure, Olympic village, environmental conditions and impact, accommodation, transport, security, experience with past sporting events, finance and the general concept.
A city that does not get a final score of at least six out of 10 would not be recommended as a candidate.
Back in 1998, Kuala Lumpur’s infrastructure was just taking shape but by 2032, it should be a mega city with fully-integrated metro lines, good sports and public infrastructure as well as a mix of luxurious and affordable hotels. And if we keep up with the warm hospitality that Malaysians are known for, it will be a plus point for us.
Kuala Lumpur can boast of not having any natural disasters, and we have enjoyed political stability all this while.
But the Government must get the public to rally behind the bid as this is very vital for success.
It is also important to start planning now in terms of talent development as the five to six-year-olds, waiting on the sidelines now, will be the ones who will represent us when the big day comes.
Funding is a key issue and the Government must not simply splurge. It has to be prudent in refurbishing the existing sports facilities in the Klang Valley.
Sports is now an industry and the Government is aware of this, or else it would not have made a bid to host the 2010 Asian Games.
We failed in that but we should try again as it is only by hosting a continental or regional Games that we can gain the experience to fulfil loftier ambitions.
Seoul hosted the 1986 Asian Games before they hosted the Olympics two years later. Beijing was the 1990 Asian Games host city before their Olympic dream came true in 2008.
Japan was on that road long ago. By being the Asian Games host in 1958, Japan then became the first Asian country to host an Olympic Games in 1964.
We can’t go wrong if we follow the same road.
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