The race to host is getting fierce
Vietnam submitted its bid to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) after it was ratified by the Government. It is considered one of the most important objectives in the development strategy of Vietnam's sports for the 2011-2020 period. The OCA will officially announce the country that is chosen to host the Asiad 19 this November so Vietnam has only about nine months left to prepare and organise lobbying campaigns.
“The possibility of winning the bid is becoming brighter for Vietnam”, said Hoang Vinh Giang, Vice President and Secretary General of the VOC. Malaysia and Hong Kong (China) have dropped out of the race for a variety of reasons, including the issue of finances. Only four candidates are currently pursuing the bid including Vietnam, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Taiwan (China).
Vietnam has a big advantage over its rivals in the race, thanks to the enthusiastic support of OCA Chairman Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah. The OCA leader has promised to try his best to help Vietnam if it is determined to host the 2019 Games. According to Giang, Dubai in the UAE is Hanoi's main competitor right now. Vietnam has been organizing urgent lobbying activities and making necessary preparations to achieve the honour, which would help promote the future development of national sports and many other industries.
Big plans for a big ambition
Some people are worried that Vietnam is not qualified to organise such a major sporting event because of its lack of experience and inadequate infrastructure, as well as the financial burden. They also say that seven to eight years is not long enough for the country to properly prepare for the Games. In response to this, Giang says Vietnam raised its prestige in the OCA considerably after its successful organisation of the 22nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2003 and the third Asian Indoor Games (AIG) in 2009, adding that the stable political situation in the country will work to its advantage.
However, the issues of expense and organisation could present obstacles. It is estimated that Vietnam would spend VND6 trillion (approximately US$300 million) on the event if Hanoi is selected as the host. Despite these challenges, the VOC Vice-chairman is optimistic that the Government’s approval of the proposal means everything has been carefully considered and calculated.
In February 2012, the VOC proposed a 'super-economical' plan to host the Games for only US$120 million, much lower than the original figure of US$300 million. If this proposal is ratified, most of the facilities that were built for the 2003 SEA Games in Hanoi and the surrounding provinces will be used. Hanoi will be the main hosting venue, allocating around 200 hectares in the Co Loa area to construct the Hanoi Olympic and Asian Games Sports Complex and nearly 50 hectares on the outskirts of the capital for an Athletes Village. According to the proposed plan, a new velodrome for track cycling will have to be built while the canoeing and kayaking venue will be either built new or upgraded from an existing venue at West Lake.
It is still too early to know whether this dream will come true, but we can be sure that Vietnam will continue campaigning to win the honour of hosting the continent's biggest sporting event in the near future.