Myanmar appears unlikely to replace Vietnam as host of the 2019 Asian Games, despite having ambitions of becoming a major player in the continent’s sporting landscape.
Myanmar’s senior sports officials said while the country, which staged last December’s SEA Games, is well-equipped to take over the hosting of the Asiad, numerous challenges remain in organising the world’s second largest multi-sports event after the Olympics, according to a report in Today online.
“If we have a choice the authority will agree (to host the Games), and our athletes are ready,” Deputy Sports Minister Zaw Winn was quoted as saying.
“But there needs to be serious consideration for such a big event as we have many things happening this year after taking over the ASEAN chairmanship.”
Khin Maung Lwin, joint secretary general of the Myanmar Olympic Committee said while Myanmar has enough facilities and infrastructure, it has shortcomings in expertise and manpower to organise such a big event. The SEA Games has 11 countries, but the Asian Games has 45.
Earlier this month, the Vietnamese government announced Hanoi was withdrawing as host of the 2019 Asiad, citing the economic recession, budgetary constraints and concerns that the country’s reputation could be damaged if the event was a flop for pulling the plug.
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) is expected to decide on the new host city on Sept 20 during the Asian Games in Incheon. The United Arab Emirates, China and Japan have been cited as possible hosts, while the Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung will spend a month evaluating the possibility of organising the Games.
Surabaya, which lost the 2019 vote to Hanoi two years ago, is another favourite, but Indonesia Olympic Committee Chairwoman Rita Subowo has questioned if the government will have enough time to prepare.
The Asian Games were to have cost Vietnam about $300 million, while this year’s Games (Sept 19-Oct 4) will reportedly cost South Korea $1.62 billion.
The costs have proved a deterrent for many, with Malaysia willing to consider stepping in only if OCA helped foot the bill, while Thailand is not keen.