Youth Olympics can, SEA games cannot?

Kelvin Teo

Singapore’s decision not to host the 2013 SEA Games is baffling. There does not seem to be a good reason why it cannot do so, given that the Youth Olympics would be hosted before the new Sports Hub is ready.

The first summer Youth Olympics in Singapore will be held from 14 August to 26 August 2010. There will be total of 18 designated competitive venues, with the Games Village located within the Nanyang Technological University campus.

(Photo credit: Gerald Yuvallos / Creative Commons)

However, the news that Singapore will not be hosting 2013 SEA Games due to the delays to the building of the S$1.87 billion sports hub came as a disappointment to some, and to others it was considered a strange turn of events. The current SEA games is underway in Laos.

It was strange given the fact that Singapore can host a major worldwide event in the form of Youth Olympics and yet not host the 2013 or 2015 SEA games, which is an ASEAN regional event.

The pertinent question is why is it not possible to utilize facilities used for the Youth Olympics for the SEA games, given the fact that the sports hub’s construction is delayed? Is it totally necessary for Singapore to establish the sports hub prior to hosting the SEA games?

Our government loves to tout our GDP figures as a marker of our economic success; we have a GDP per capita of $51,500 and the figures for Laos dwarfs us by more than twenty times at $2,100. And yet, it is the latter who is hosting the current edition of the SEA games.

Singapore last hosted the SEA games in 1993, whilst Thailand has hosted two editions of the SEA games in 1995 and 2007 and Indonesia, which last hosted the event in 1997 will be hosting it in 2011. The trend is that there is a twelve to fourteen year gap before the country (e.g. Malaysia 1989, 2001) actually hosts the games again.

For years, our SEA games athletes have competed on foreign soil. Most have not experienced what it like is to compete on home soil, in the presence of home supporters and dignitaries.

It will be a good sports education for some athletes in terms of handling pressure from the home supporters. Being able to handle home expectations whilst maintaining peak sporting performance is a necessary part of an athlete’s development. Some may crack under pressure while others revel in such situations.

As for other athletes hoping to hit their personal best or better their current achievements, the home support will give them that extra edge to hit greater heights.

Hosting the Games will also bring about greater social cohesion when supporters from the public who are interested in certain sports get together at competitive venues to support our local-born athletes. Strangers mingle with each other and experience together the highs and lows of the events played out in the sporting arena. Camaraderie and new found friendships are forged, which bode well for the goal of greater community development through sports.

Thus, isn’t it about time Singapore should host the SEA games? A fourteen-year wait is long enough.

If Singapore pulls off the hosting of the 2010 Youth Olympics smoothly and without a glitch, it would have earned itself a reputation as a leading host for international sporting events. But, wouldn’t it be unfortunate that Singapore still fail to host the 2013 and 2015 editions of the SEA games, and in doing so, miss out on the opportunity to show ourselves as a leading host of international sporting events even at the regional level?

About the Youth Olympic Games

The Youth Olympic Games started off as the brainchild of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge in 2001. Subsequently, in 2007, IOC members at the 119th IOC session in Guatemala City gave their approval to the creation of a youth version of the Olympic Games.

Singapore was initially among the five candidate cities to be selected by the IOC as potential hosts to the first summer youth olympics, and eventually won the right to host the event, by virtue of winning 53 votes versus 44 against its nearest rival Moscow.

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