Ocm Believes Commonwealth Games Doable With Downsized Model

OCM secretary-general Datuk Mohd Nazifuddin Najib
18/03/2024 06:55 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 (Bernama) -- The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) believes that Malaysia is capable of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games with a ‘reasonable budget’ via a downsized model for the quadrennial games.

OCM secretary-general Datuk Mohd Nazifuddin Najib said the cost of hosting the Commonwealth Games could be significantly cut by reducing the number of sports to as low as 10, moving away from grand opening and closing ceremonies, and using existing sports facilities instead of building new ones.

He said the 2017 SEA Games budget was around RM700 million excluding broadcasting and other fees, where the athletes and officials were placed in hotels around the city instead of a purpose-built games village.

Mohd Nazifuddin said they can also utilise the facilities upgraded for the 2027 SEA Games to be hosted by Malaysia and promote Commonwealth Games as part of the Visit Malaysia Year 2026 (VMY2026).

“The budget can’t be compared with Victoria or the 1998 Games. There’s no sanction fee like Victoria of about £25-30 million (about RM150-180 million), which was waived by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF). We will use the existing facilities in KL Sports City in Bukit Jalil like the National Stadium and Aquatics Centre,” he told a press conference after the Paris 2024 Olympics team managers' meeting at Wisma OCM here today.

The government is expected to make a decision this week on the offer by CGF to host the games.

“There are some 40 types of sports for the SEA Games but only about 15 for the Commonwealth Games. In terms of size, Commonwealth has about 3,500 athletes or 5,000 including officials, while more than 10,000 athletes and officials are involved in the SEA Games. For sure, we can organise these games,” he said.

The initial host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games, Victoria, pulled out after the projected cost for hosting the games surged from AUD2.6 billion (about RM8.09 billion) to AUD7 billion (RM21.78 billion).

Following that, the CGF offered a fund injection of £100 million (RM602 million) to Malaysia, which hosted the games in 1998, and other members to save the quadrennial games. 

On Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the government will scrutinise the details and obtain the views of all parties, including the Youth and Sports Ministry, before making a final decision on the offer to host the games.

Asked about the possibility of co-hosting the games with Singapore, Mohd Nazifuddin said the decision can only be made by the government. 

He prefers to stage the games in 2026 instead of postponing it a year to 2027.

“There are suggestions to have the games in 2027 but it's better to separate the SEA Games and Commonwealth Games. Having it in 2026 can be used to promote Malaysia in conjunction with VMY2026 to welcome contingents from more than 70 countries. But it is up to the government,” he said.

Mohd Nazifuddin also suggested an option to introduce new sports like sepak takraw in the Commonwealth Games to increase the country’s medal collection.