Former National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz
11/03/2024 09:40 PM

By Amiril Muttaqien Meketar

KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 (Bernama) -- Malaysia must be bold and brave to take risks by accepting the offer made by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) to replace Australia who have withdrawn as the host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

Though hosting the Commonwealth Games would incur a high cost, former National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz feels the investment of 100 million pounds (approx RM601 mln) from the CGF to support the plan to host the 2026 edition would certainly ease the financial burden of the host country.

“If we carefully study, there is no big risks involved, especially with the injection of funds from the CGF. We will not progress if we are always looking for an easy path or be cautious in accepting challenges because any country can only move forward if they are ready to take risks by weighing the positive factors.

“Therefore, the Ministry of Youth and Sports (KBS) must study all aspects before preparing and submitting a working paper to the cabinet for consideration and decision (to become the Commonwealth Games host),” he told Bernama today.

Dr Ramlan said Malaysia must be prudent in managing the funds provided by the CGF for organising the 2026 Commonwealth Games by focusing on upgrading the existing competition venues, transportation and allowances for officials and staff involved.

He added that Malaysia would not have to fork out too much since participating countries would be paying for participation, including accomodation, food and flights as well as officials under their contingents.

“The participating countries through their respective Olympic councils would pay the cost of participation for every athlete to the organiser, so that factor will also be taken care of if we accept the offer to host the 2026 Games, replacing Victoria from Australia,” he said.

Dr Ramlan who was also the former National Sports Institute (ISN) chief executive officer said with about two years remaining for the 2026 Commonwealth Games Malaysia need not worry about the quality of organising a spectacular sporting event because the country has officials who are highly qualified and experienced in hosting major sporting events in the past.

“I myself was involved as a medical officer in the 2023 Hockey World Cup in India, 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games in China, and 2023 Junior Hockey World Cup here.

“We are all aware that there are many Malaysian officials who hold high profile positions in international sports organisations. Therefore, there should not be any problem in management, technical expertise and preparation of officials,” he said.

Dr Ramlan added that the preparation of athletes is also not an issue because athletes are undergoing various programmes, including the Podium Programme and Road To Gold and they also participate in numerous international competitions.

He added that the situation when the country hosted the 1998 Commonwealth Games was different because Malaysia had to build many sporting venues and athletes had to start from scratch in sports like lawn bowls and rhythmic gymnastics.

“...and now we are in position where we are world class in lawn bowls. The argument that you need similar amount of time around five to six years to prepare athletes is no longer a strong contrary argument,” he said.

The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) through a statement today said discussions were held with the KBS in relation to the possibility of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games following the official invitation to OCM by the CGF regarding an offer to host the games.

The OCM president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria in a statement said the government must consider the once in a lifetime opportunity to host the games and the financial assistance offered by the CGF to host the games.

A positive decision would help Malaysia continue the legacy of having organised the 1998 Commonwealth Games successfully and claim a spot among the elite sporting nations of the world.

On Saturday, Yourth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh said the cabinet would be making a decision on whether Malaysia are interested in hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games or not.

The host for the 2026 Commonwealth Games fell vacant after Victoria decided to withdraw as the host last July, citing the high cost for organising the games which has been estimated to be in the region of AUD2.6 billion (RM8.09 billion) to AUD7 billion (about RM21.78 billion).

The government of Victoria has reportedly agreed to pay AUD380 million for breaching the contract to host the games from March 17 to 29, 2026.