SPORTS Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has stated he will support the hosting of the 2017 Sea Games in Malaysia but stressed that it is the government that will ultimately decide whether to hold the first Games in Kuala Lumpur since 2001.Khairy said he viewed the Olympic Council of Malaysia's (OCM) enthusiasm in wanting to host the Games in a positive light but reminded that caution must be exercised when it involves taxpayers money.
"It is our turn to host the Games in the Asean rotation and we will have to make a decision before the Myanmar Games this year," said Khairy after officiating the Malaysia Games sponsorship handover presentation in Putrajaya yesterday.
"I have just asked the National Sports Council (NSC) and Sports Ministry to prepare a memorandum entailing the costs that will be required to host the Games. I will give them a month or two to prepare it and will then present it to the cabinet.
"Ultimately it is the government that will decide as the funds to organise the event will come from them.
"We accept OCM's enthusiasm in wanting to host it positively and we also want to have it here but I have to keep a close eye when spending the people's money."
Khairy added that it was too early to say whether the Games could be organised at the same or lower cost than the annual Malaysia Games, as claimed by OCM.
"NSC and the ministry will be doing a detailed costing of the event. I do not want to get ahead of things and say it is possible (for less).
"Having the Malaysia Games is different as it is meant for athletes development while the Sea Games is on another level."
Meanwhile, Khairy said that sports, as an industry in Malaysia, needs to continue improving to help relieve the burden on the government in organising competitions such as the Malaysia Games.
He disclosed that the total of RM1 million raised in cash and goods from private sector sponsorship this year was still far from offsetting the RM9 million it costs to stage the Malaysia Games which starts next week.
"Despite the sponsorship we have received, the government still had to come up with over 90 per cent of the funding to hold the Games.
"I hope we will continue to work and develop our sports industry and make it an excellent marketing platform for the private sector.
"Only with private sector sponsorship can we fix this imbalance in funding our sporting events." By Fadhli Ishak
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