What Pride In Hosting Commonwealth Games If Only 10 Sports Hosted? - Pekan Ramli

Datuk Dr Pekan Ramli
19/03/2024 06:54 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 (Bernama) -- The issue of Malaysia being offered to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games is hotting up ás various parties express differing opinions which has led to the latest question, which is: What pride is there in hosting the Commonwealth Games if Malaysia cuts down the number of sports to 10?

Local sports analyst Datuk Dr Pekan Ramli feels the proposal to downsize the sporting festival is unrealistic as Malaysia will be seen to lower the standard of the second biggest games after the Olympics which is also held every four years.

To be sure that the proposal will not sit well with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), it would be awkward for Malaysia to insist on such a pre-condition to take up the offer.

"What level is the (Commonwealth) Games? Even the SEA Games has more sports (assuming it is downsized to 10 and accepted) if at all for the sake of just being host, (but) if we want to uphold the image of our country we need to meet the demands of the CGF. I don't think the CGF will agree to 10 sports unless Malaysia insists on it though it is the less favoured option.

".. and I see the proposal (to reduce events) is not practical because if you want to downsize from 20 events in Birmingham 2022 to 17 or 18 (in Malaysia) it would be acceptable but if you only have 10 or 11, it won't match the level of the Commonwealth Games. (Maybe) other Commonwealth countries will view this negatively when their athletes are definitely ready to (compete in) 17 or 18 events," he told Bernama today.

The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) secretary-general Datuk Mohd Nazifuddin Najib suggested yesterday that the Commonwealth Games could be organised on a smaller scale by reducing the number of sports to as low as 10, omitting the grandiose opening and closing ceremonies, and without building new facilities and a sports village to significantly reduce organisational cost.

Pekan also feels that Malaysia's good name will not be tarnished éven if it turns down the host job, based on the strong rationale of an uncertain economic situation and the limited time to make the best of preparations.

He said Malaysia needs to 'measure the clothes on its own body' ('make a decision based on its own situation') while abiding by the principle of 'let it be slow as it is safe' by offering itself to be host for the second time when it is really ready in the future.

"I don't see any real concern (if it rejects the offer) because CGF is not just offering it to us, it is not exclusive but also to Singapore and other CGF (countries) (and) if we reject (with) certain reasons like our capabilities are not good at this time due to the precarious economic situation at this point in time.

"(It is not as if) CGF will blacklist us or not present (Malaysia) with the opportunity to host another Commonwealth Games (in the future). (Later) when we are ready, (we can go through) the bidding process (and) show that we are truly capable to be (host). (Definitely no problem). It's not a once in a lifetime opportunity. That isn't the case," said Pekan, who also emphasised that the organisation of the Games should strengthen the bond among Malaysians.

Posed the possibility of Malaysia co-hosting it with Singapore, Pekan said this needed an urgent holistic discussion with the neighbouring country to see if they want to work together to reduce each other's burden.

"This is an opportunity for us, with this idea suddenly surfacing because we previously did not know that Singapore was also offered, so it (being co-host is) a good option. Malaysia and Singapore both can bear the burden and risk, they just need to discuss quickly because it is getting close to a Cabinet decision," he said.

Victoria, (Australia) which was supposed to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games, pulled out in July last year due to the ballooning preparatory costs from the initial estimate of AUD2.6 billion (about RM8.09 billion) to AUD7 billion (about RM21.78 billion).

Following that, the CGF offered an injection of 100 million pounds (RM602 million) to Malaysia, which was the host in 1998, and also to other member countries, to save the quadrennial event.

Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh assured that all aspects will be considered in detail in the Cabinet meeting this Friday before a decision regarding the bid for Malaysia to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games is finalised.

Hannah, however, expects the announcement of a decision may take longer if more information is wanting in the consideration of the CGF overture.