A decision on which city will replace Hanoi as host of the 2019 Asian Games is due to be made in September but there remains confusion on who will put themselves forward.
Indonesia are the favourites, it has been claimed, even though yesterday Rita Subowo, chair of the National Sports Committee of Indonesia (KONI), appeared to distance the country from a bid.
Malaysia have also been mentioned as possibilities to step in only for the country’s Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to claim today they are not interested.
Thailand, who have hosted the Asian Games more than any other country, also ruled themselves out because of the shortage of time to prepare.
Ade Lukman, KONI’s head of sport for all, appeared to contradict Subowo, a member of the International Olympic Committee, when he claimed that Indonesia were the leading candidates to replace Hanoi, who announced on Thursday (April 17) that they planned to give up their hosting rights because of economic problems in Vietnam.
“The Indonesian people would be proud of being the 2019 Asian Games host country after it held the Games several decades ago,” Lukman told Agence France-Presse.
“It is very important for Indonesia if we are nominated as the Asian Games host country, as it will help create stronger interest in sports here and hopefully it will help improve the achievement of our athletes competing in the event.”
Hanoi were chosen to host the Asian Games in November 2012 ahead of Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city which is located on East Java.
Indonesia has staged the Asian Games once before, in Jakarta in 1962.
But it is believed that the Indonesian Government want assurances about the cost of hosting the Games before they commit themselves.
Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) director general Husain Al Musallam has revealed a final decision on the new host city is due to be made on September 20 in Incheon, South Korea, location of this year’s Asian Games.
Malaysia are also interested, it has been claimed by unnamed OCA officials.
But Jamaluddin appeared to rule that out following a meeting of Malaysia’s Government in Kuala Lumpur today, claiming they wanted to concentrate on the 2017 Southeastern (SEA) Games
“Hosting the SEA Games 2017 is not as costly as hosting the Asian Games,” he said.
“The hosting of the SEA Games has been given the thumbs up by the Cabinet.”
Thailand, which last hosted the Games in Bangkok in 1998, claimed they wanted to concentrate instead on bidding for the 2023 edition.
“It is only five years from now,” Yutthasak Sasiprabha, President of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand, told The Bangkok Post.
“It is too soon for us to prepare for the 2019 Games.”
The Olympic Council of Asia will have to find a new host which could be the UAE (United Arab Emirates), China or Japan.”
Randhir Singh, the OCA’s secretary-general, acknowledged that lack of time will restrict the number of potential candidates.
“The matter will have to be discussed at length by the OCA,” he told The Associated Press.
“It’s a decision which has to be taken judiciously considering various factors.
“We have to decide who will be able to deliver, keeping in mind the time factor.”
This article first appeared in www.insidethegames.biz and is reproduced with permission.