Two years not enough to prepare for Commonwealth Games, says ex-minister

The proposal to become the host was not made with careful planning but rather abruptly when Victoria withdrew from being the host.

15 Mar 2024 10:22am
Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican.
Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican.

Malaysia needs to carefully consider before accepting the offer from the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) to step in for Victoria, Australia, as the host for the 2026 Commonwealth Games, following Victoria's withdrawal.

Former youth and sports minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said two years was too short of a time for a country to get ready to host such a big event.

He also said the proposal to become the host was not made with careful planning but rather abruptly when Victoria withdrew from being the host.

"I see the timing is not suitable (to host the Commonwealth Games). We do not have enough time to prepare the venues, arrange for volunteers, address safety aspects and involvement of other agencies.

"Usually, the announcement of the host's rights is made early, around two Olympic cycles or eight years. This allows the host time to prepare facilities and athlete development programmes," he said, yesterday.

As the host, CGF offered Malaysia a grant of £100 million (RM601 million) to support the planning for the 2026 edition and will reduce the financial burden of hosting the sports event.

Reezal also noted that hosting such an event required significant expenditure and the country will also be hosting the Asean Summit next year.

He said Malaysia will assume the Asean chair in 2025 - a major conference in the region involving the presence of world leaders.

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"This conference requires high expenditure and meticulous preparation as it involves the arrival of major world leaders such as the United States, Russia and South Korea.

"Malaysia has experience (hosting the Asean Summit) in 2015. It is not that we are incapable, but there is very limited time to prepare for an international-scale conference and the Commonwealth Games," he said.

Therefore, he suggested that Malaysia should focus on hosting the Asian Games independently and the Olympics jointly with other Asean member countries in the future.

He added that the Asian Games could be a platform to develop elite athletes to win medals and subsequently enhance their performance for greater competitiveness in the Olympic Games.

"The Asian Games served as a stage to showcase the nation's elite athletes and stand out in pursuit of medals at the Olympic Games," he said.

The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) announced that it has commenced discussions with the Youth and Sports Minister regarding the proposal to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games following an official invitation from CGF to OCM, also known as the Commonwealth Games Association (CGA) of Malaysia, last month.

OCM president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria said CGA Malaysia viewed that the government should consider the "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity, along with the related financial support and investments to continue Malaysia's legacy of success in hosting the Kuala Lumpur 1998 Commonwealth Games and to restore the country's glory on the world sports stage.

Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh announced on Wednesday that the matter will be brought to the Cabinet for discussion next week.