MONEY DAMPER: Onus on OCM to make proposal
SPORTS Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek poured cold water on the prospect of Malaysia hosting the 2017 Sea Games but the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) is prepared to work with the government to explore the matter in detail.
The Sea Games Federation offered the 2017 hosting job to Malaysia during its council meeting in Yangon on Saturday and OCM expressed its readiness to host the Games should there be no other taker.
But Ahmad Shabery said the cost to stage the multi-event regional extravaganza would be prohibitive to the government and cited concerns over the availability of venues with the National Sports Complex in Bukit Jalil due to undergo an overhaul in the next few years.
"I don't think we have secured the right to host the 2017 Sea Games yet but in any case, this will involve a huge amount of money which will require cabinet approval.
"Besides, five years is a short period and we cannot be depending on our existing facilities to host the Games.
"There is a plan to give Bukit Jalil a new breath of life and we have yet to receive approval to build a new velodrome.
"As it stands, we cannot be hosts in 2017 unless we present a proposal to the cabinet and the cabinet then approves a sizable budget to organise the Games, which could take funds away from more important areas," said Ahmad Shabery after launching the National Coaching Academy in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
The Indonesia Sea Games last year cost US$230 million (RM725 million) to stage 44 sports while Malaysia spent RM50 million to host an austere 2001 Sea Games in Kuala Lumpur, three years after the staging of the Commonwealth Games, thus precluding the need to build new facilities.
Ahmad Shabery, however, did not rule out the possibility of hosting the Games using private funds if OCM is able to secure sponsors.
"If government funding is needed, then OCM needs to present a proposal. But if they can hold it on their own using private funding then it would be easier to get the cabinet's approval.
"But I fear the Sea Games is not yet at a stage where it would be profitable and ensure a return to private sponsors. It is not like the Olympics or Asian Games where you can make money off broadcast rights," he said.
OCM president Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja'afar said it would be almost impossible to host the Sea Games without government support and funding though they would present a detailed paper to explore the possibility.
"It has been offered to us by SGF and we will have to work with the government but if the government is reluctant, then we won't do it," said Tunku Imran when contacted yesterday.
"No discussions have been held yet since it was only offered to us last weekend when it was confirmed that it was Malaysia's turn to host the Games.
By the time 2017 comes, we would have last hosted the Games 16 years ago, which is a good gap to do it again.
"Obviously if Malaysia is not prepared then we would have to give up our slot to the country next in line. Still, we have to talk to the government about it, present a detailed paper and have them look at it seriously.
"We have not had a major Games here for a long time and I think the sporting public are hankering for it and people would understand if we wanted it."