The dollars and sense of the YOG--PDF

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					The dollars and sense of the YOG
Minister defends
govt decision to host
Games, cost overrun
[SINGAPORE] Hosting last
month’s Youth Olympic
Games (YOG) in Singapore
was,        in       Vivian
Balakrishnan’s own words,
“not cheap”, given the gov-
ernment forked out $387
million to organise the
12-day event.
    This was more than
three times the initial pro-
jection of $122 million, and
the Community Develop-
ment, Youth and Sports
Minister admits the organis-
ing committee severely un-
derestimated the require-
ments in a number of key
areas such as technology
and venue upgrading.
    “Our initial estimate was
clearly inaccurate – we got
it wrong. This was the
first-ever YOG and, quite
frankly, both the IOC (Inter-
national Olympic Commit-
tee) and ourselves were
starting from scratch,” he
said in Parliament yester-
day as he took pains to justi-
                                                                                                                                                                                      THE STRAITS TIMES
fy the government’s deci-
sion to bid for the event        Showcase: The YOG closing ceremony. The Games did well to profile Singapore to an international audience, Dr Balakrishnan said yesterday.
three years ago.
    More than 5,000 teen-        which are at world-class                                                                              The other option that         er $46 million went to over-
age athletes and officials
                                 standard with world-class
                                 timing and information sys-
                                                                   Not cheap                                                       crossed his mind was to
                                                                                                                                   “blindly cut the budget”
                                                                                                                                                                     seas firms with local subsid-
                                                                                                                                                                     iaries. Dr Balakrishnan
from 205 countries were in                                         Breaking down YOG’s
                                 tems,” he said in response                                                                        and deliver a sub-standard        urged them to “leverage on
town for the inaugural                                                                                                                                               their experience” and go on
Games, which ended on
                                 to a question from non-con-       projected $387m budget                             $m           YOG, but this would not
                                 stituency MP Sylvia Lim,                                                                          have been fair to the ath-        to compete for other major
Aug 26.                                                            Technology                                        97.0                                            international        projects
                                 who wanted to know wheth-                                                                         letes, the IOC or Singapore.
    As Dr Balakrishnan field-                                                                                                                                        worldwide.
                                 er there was due diligence        Upgrading of venues and equipment                 76.0          “At the end of the day, you
ed questions in the House        when preparing the origi-                                                                         want to host something                Additional tourism re-
during       an     intense,     nal budget, which was             Live broadcasts                                   45.5          that would be a source of         ceipts are likely to have
50-minute debate on YOG,         much lower than bidding ri-                                                                       collective pride for all Singa-   amounted to about $57 mil-
he gave a blow-by-blow                                             Logistics                                         44.0                                            lion, while Visa recently re-
                                 val Moscow had put on the                                                                         poreans,” he said.
breakdown of how the             table.                            Security                                          18.0              Revenue-wise, ticket          ported that spending on for-
budget was spent, citing                                                                                                                                             eign Visa-branded pay-
                                     Dr Balakrishnan reiterat-     Operational costs                                 14.3          and merchandise sales are
specific areas.                                                                                                                                                      ment cards in Singapore in-
                                 ed a point his ministry                                                                           expected to have yielded
    Logistics, covering food     made prior to YOG: that
                                                                   International torch relay                          7.0          about $7 million – a “low fig-
                                                                                                                                                                     creased 38 per cent to $154
and logistics, cost $44 mil-                                                                                                                                         million.
                                 many of the final specifica-      Cultural and education programme                   5.4          ure” because the organis-             All in all, YOG did well to
lion in total, while the bill    tions and standards of each                                                                       ers wanted to make the
for technological invest-                                          Sponsorship received (cash and in kind)           67.3                                            profile Singapore to an in-
                                 event – which had to be                                                                           event accessible to all. Com-     ternational audience, as
ments and upgrades came          pegged to World Youth                                                             Source: MCYS    panies big and small con-         more people will “sit up
in at $97 million.               Championship levels –                                                                             tributed $60 million of spon-     and take notice” of what
    The minister defended        were determined only after                                                                        sorship in kind, while oth-       the country is capable of.
this expenditure, saying the     Singapore won the hosting       tions: would Singapore still      that the answer was ‘yes’, I    ers such as Samsung, Atos,            “Now everyone knows
government “had a reason”        rights in February 2008.        have gone ahead with its          had to proceed,” he said,       Panasonic and DBS gave            we are a beautiful, dynam-
for underestimating this as-         When it emerged that        bid had it known it would         adding that he had to con-      $7.6 million in cash.             ic, creative and global city
pect.                            YOG would cost more than        cost $387 million; and, af-       vince the rest of the Cabinet       About 70 per cent of the      that they would want to vis-
    “We didn’t think, at that    the government had              ter doing so, has it received     before getting the approval     budget, or $260 million,          it, live, work, play and in-
point in time, that we were      thought, Dr Balakrishnan        value for money?                  for the additional funds        was awarded in contracts          vest in,” Dr Balakrishnan
going to host a Games            had to answer two ques-            “Once I was convinced          from the Finance Ministry.      to local companies. Anoth-        said.

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