YOG, SEA Games, Asian Games?

Spectacular fireworks display surrounding the Singapore Sports Hub at the 28th SEA Games Closing Ceremony. (Photo: SINGSOC/Action Images via Reuters)

22 Jun 2015

Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, President of the Singapore National Olympic Council, shares his post SEA Games assessment in a three-part interview. Read the other two interviews here:

Singapore, 22 June 2015 – Despite the successful hosting of the 28th South-east Asian (SEA) Games, Singapore has to tread carefully if it wants to hold even bigger sports meets.

Many countries have faced problems after hosting major events like the Olympic and Asian Games, said Singapore National Olympic Council president Tan Chuan-Jin.

“If you want to host games of that nature, you do need fairly decent facilities,” he observed.

“Are our existing ones sufficient? If not sufficient, do we need to build more? If you build more, will they be productively used after the games? Assuming the infrastructure is something you can manage, then you have to see if you can coordinate and host games of that magnitude.”

While the Olympics have never been held in this region, the Asian Games have travelled to South-east Asia six times.

Thailand hosted on four occasions and the Philippines and Indonesia have done it once each. Jakarta will host for a second time in 2018.

The Commonwealth Games have been to South-east Asia only once, when Malaysia hosted in 1998.

Singapore has widely been seen as too small in size to hold such major sporting events, a view reiterated by Culture, Community and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong recently.

Mr Tan said that while Singapore has hosted the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in 2010 and the SEA Games, and even with the new Sports Hub, the other major meets could remain too massive for the country to cope.

“We’ve got a fairly small base…you still need a certain volume to be able to fill up stadiums and facilities,” he said.

“We did YOG, which has more countries than SEA Games. But it is quite a big step up from South-east Asian Games to, say, Commonwealth Games,” he said.

“It is a massive undertaking and not something to be taken lightly.”

Nonetheless, Singapore had done a good job as hosts of the SEA Games and visitors went away impressed, he shared.

“Many of my counterparts who have been at many games, they were really impressed. They said it was really good. Very smooth, very efficient,” he said.

Visitors were particularly impressed with the housing of athletes in hotels in the city instead of the usual games village, often tucked away in remote locations.

“I did wonder how people would take to it. But actually people took to it very well,” he said.

“Maybe in large parts because ‘now I’m actually staying in quite nice accommodation’, because games villages can sometimes be more spartan,” he added with a laugh.

The Malaysian delegates, in particular, were impressed.

Said Mr Tan, in jest: “I was talking to my counterpart in Malaysia and he said that if the high speed railway come into fruition, we should co-host the Olympics!”