Vietnam lawmakers concerned by mounting cost of Asian Games

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Hosting the Asian sporting event may cost Vietnam over $300 million, double the initial estimate made when Vietnam bid on the event in 2012

My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi that was built for the 22nd Southeast Asian Games in 2003 and several relevant infrastructure constructions have been criticized as being wasted while costs for the 2019 Asian Games are estimated to rise to more than US$300 million. Photo: Ngo Nguyen

The government will likely have to spend over US$300 million hosting the Asian Games (Asiad) in 2019, double what it had previously announced.
Deputy Finance Minister Do Hoang Tuan Anh quoted a Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism plan as saying that the government will have to prepare over VND5.47 trillion for the event.
The figure did not include VND820 billion ($38.67 million) in estimated expenses for the training of Vietnamese athletes who would take part in the Games, he said.
Anh was speaking at a meeting with the National Assembly’s Culture, Education, Youth and Children Committee on Tuesday, where lawmakers grilled Hoang Tuan Anh, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, over the possibility of getting enough funds together to host the event properly.
Previously when asking for the Prime Minister’s permission to bid on hosting the 18th Asiad, the ministry estimated that the event would cost Vietnam $150 million.
However, at the latest meeting, Anh said the previously estimated costs did not include infrastructure investment, because infrastructure was already part of local governments’ development plans.
It was not clear if the ministry’s latest proposed costs included investment in infrastructure.
One lawmaker who raised concerns over the event’s budget, Le Nhu Tien, vice chairman of the committee, said Qatar spent $2.8 billion hosting the event in 2006, China nearly $20 billion in 2010, and South Korea planned $1.62 billion this year.
Tien told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the sport ministry wanted to avoid alarming the public when announcing the package of $150 million, which was actually just part of total expenses.
He said all expenses related to the hosting of the Asiad must be calculated in detail instead of being “ambiguous,” otherwise the government and the National Assembly would get stuck in “a done deal.”
Local media have reported that several facilities in Ho Chi Minh City that were built or upgraded for the 22nd Southeast Asian Games have been abandoned, degraded or used for other purposes.
The Ky Hoa Petanque Club, with six international-standard petanque courts, has been turned into a car park.
It's not so bad for the Lanh Binh Thang Stadium, but it has hosted no major Judo competition despite being upgraded to host martial arts events during the SEA Games.
The Phu Tho Sports Complex, which required more than VND140 billion to turn it into a venue that could host taekwondo competitions during the same games, has not been used for major sport competitions since. It has become a popular exhibition venue now.
Tien, the lawmaker, said the My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi that was built for the 22nd SEA Games in 2003 and was also a waste.
"The stadium and several relevant infrastructure constructions have been wasted. Now, they have even leased some places to host weddings and other non-sport activities,” he said.

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Thanh Nien News (The story can be found in the March 21st issue of our print edition, Vietweek)

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