News / Asia

‘Sports Mad’ Vietnam Surprises With Decision Not to Host Asian Games

The Incheon Asiad Main Stadium is being built for the 17th Asian Games to be held in Incheon from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4, 2014. Vietnam has decided not to host the  2019 Asian Games.
The Incheon Asiad Main Stadium is being built for the 17th Asian Games to be held in Incheon from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4, 2014. Vietnam has decided not to host the 2019 Asian Games.
Marianne Brown
Last week, the Vietnamese government surprised many with its decision not to host the 2019 Asian Games.

Despite being ranked a not-so-lofty 116 in the FIFA World Ranking Table, Vietnamese fans at any big soccer match can attest to high enthusiasm when it comes to supporting their country in international events.

Soccer tends to rouse the most fervor, with the logos of top teams like Manchester United, Inter Milan and Barcelona often emblazoned on motorbikes, helmets and clothing. But other sports, like badminton and martial arts, are popular, too.

That is why the government’s decision not to host the Asian Games in 2019 came as a surprise to many observers, including Vietnam expert Professor Carl Thayer from the University of New South Wales in Australia.

"This is a country that likes to be a centerpiece, that is sports mad," Thayer said. "It just surprised me because usually Vietnam uses these opportunities to showcase itself."

Many challenges

The reaction from inside the country, however, suggests that many saw it coming.

In a statement released late Thursday, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said Vietnam did not have enough experience at hosting large sporting events, and was also facing socio-economic difficulties.

Hosting an international sporting event can "contribute to socio-economic development, promoting the country’s images and increasing its position," the statement said. But if the event is not a success, "the effects will be reversed.”

Hanoi won the bid to host the games in 2012, beating the Indonesian city of Surabaya. However, the anticipated costs were criticized by the public amid concerns for the country’s economic growth rate, which at 5 percent annually has been hampered by inefficient state enterprises and a beleaguered banking system.

The costs of hosting the event were estimated at $150 million, according to local media reports. But some put the price tag much higher.

The move prompted some speculation that Vietnam was wary of bad publicity following Russia’s experience hosting the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Thayer said he does not think this was likely.

"Who apart from a handful of people would be worried about the expense? High speed rail, that’s an expense that the PM loses," he said. "But the Asian Games - it would be circuses for the masses."

Hoang Quoc Vinh, director of international cooperation at the Viet Nam Sports Administration, said in an email to VOA that the Vietnamese government has invested a lot in this area, especially in encouraging young talent.

He said it was a “pity” Vietnam is not hosting the Asian Games and described the feeling like “when a football is about to go into the net but suddenly changes its direction and finally lands outside the net.”

However, he said the faith and thirst for championship always stays inside sports people, adding, “I believe that Vietnamese sports will have many opportunities to win in the future.”

Lacking popular support

The news has been generally welcomed inside Vietnam. Economist Nguyen Quang A called the move a “brave decision”.

"The government admitted the decision to host the event was made too quickly," he said. "While the country risks losing face by backing out now, the situation would have been much worse if it had gone ahead and held the games."

The Vietnamese media was positive about the move. Newspaper Tuoi Tre wrote: “Many Vietnamese people have hailed Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s decision to withdraw Hanoi as host of the 2019 Asian Games.”

Before the decision was announced, the newspaper said it held a survey on whether Vietnam should host the games. Of more than 13,600 respondents, 84 percent did not support the idea.  

Reports quoting officials at the Olympics Council of Asia said a decision on who would host the event  instead of Vietnam in 2019 would be made at the next Asia Games, which is to be held in Incheon, South Korea, in September and October.

Two other countries have dropped out of hosting the games, South Korea in 1970 and Pakistan in 1978.

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid