Should Malaysia uphold a fading legacy? - Analysts debate 2026 Commonwealth Games

Sports commissioner's criticism raises concerns about 2026 games cost

15 Mar 2024 07:00am
According to analysts, financial risks, logistical challenges cloud hosting bid for Malaysia - File photo by Bernama
According to analysts, financial risks, logistical challenges cloud hosting bid for Malaysia - File photo by Bernama

SHAH ALAM - Following Australia's withdrawal as the host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games, sports analysts concur that Malaysia should decline the opportunity to host the event.

The Commonwealth Games, once a pinnacle of international sporting events, has experienced a dramatic shift in perception over the years. What was once a coveted occasion has now lost much of its allure, prompting questions about its relevance in contemporary sporting landscapes.

Should Malaysia, or any other nation for that matter, invest its resources and reputation into upholding a colonial tradition that may no longer hold the same significance?

Seasoned sports journalist Graig Nunis voiced his opposition to Malaysia hosting the Commonwealth Games, citing logistical challenges and inadequate preparation time as primary concerns.

“Primarily, there is not sufficient time to develop necessary facilities like the games village, unless participants are accommodated in separate hotels, which would diminish the experience.

“A two-year timeframe for preparation seems inadequate.

"In 1998, when we last hosted, it served as a showcase of Malaysia's progress, exemplified by the completion of landmarks like the Petronas Twin Towers.

“The following year, we hosted the F1, highlighting our new infrastructure and signalling our arrival on the global stage.

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"We have always had more than one reason to host these kinds of events,” he said.

However, Graig said that hosting should be part of a broader, long-term plan for our athletes, rather than solely focused on the event itself.

“Considering the financial strains faced by Australia and English cities like Birmingham, which even went bankrupt, it is crucial to understand the true costs of hosting such events.

“Why does the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) impose only a partial penalty of RM600 million on Australia when the full penalty is RM1.17 billion?

“These are critical questions that need answers before committing to host the event,” he stressed.

Graig also supported Sports Commissioner Suhardi Alias's sentiments regarding Malaysia's proposal to host the upcoming edition of the Commonwealth Games, calling it “shocking, financially risky, and short-sighted.”

In a related matter, Sportswriter Arnaz M. Khairul echoed Suhardi's apprehensions regarding the financial implications of hosting the Commonwealth Games.

“Suhardi holds the authority to challenge or scrutinise such decisions since the Sports Commissioner's Office grants approvals for international events.

“If he lacks this capacity, perhaps the Sports Minister (Hannah Yeoh) should consider assuming the role of Sports Commissioner as well.

"Moreover, his apprehensions regarding the financial aspects are justified,” he said.

Drawing attention to the diminished attraction of Commonwealth Games in recent editions, Arnaz questioned whether Malaysia should host this colonial tradition.

“The Commonwealth Games has dwindled in significance and financial viability.

"The lack of interest from other nations in hosting indicates its waning allure and relevance.

“Politically, it remains a relic of the British Empire, and the burden of sustaining it should fall on its former colonies.

"It is not Malaysia's obligation to rescue a fading legacy.

“If Malaysia were to choose to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games, given our current performance, we might make history as the first-ever host nation to not secure a single gold medal on the final medal tally,” he warned.

Despite the financial risks involved, Arnaz also contemplated the potential scenario of Malaysia hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

“Ultimately, our sports are overseen by politicians who will employ their resources to portray it as an overwhelming success, regardless of its actual outcome.

“The truth behind its success or failure may only surface decades later, after the spin has dissipated and new leadership has taken over,” he said.

Yesterday, Suhardi was hauled up by the Youth and Sports Ministry and told to explain himself.

Suhardi was quoted by local media on March 12 when he slammed the proposal for Malaysia to host the upcoming edition of the Commonwealth Games, calling it “shocking, financially risky, and short-sighted”.