Vision KL speaks to Tunku Tan Sri Imran Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Ja’afar, the Deputy Chairman of the Malaysia Organising Committee (MASOC) to find out what it takes to organise the SEA Games from scratch. Tunku Tan Sri Imran is a man of many hats. For starters, he’s the President of the Olympic Council of Malaysia, a title which automatically makes him the President of the SEA Games Federation, as Malaysia is once again the host country of the 29th SEA Games and 9th ASEAN Para Games. To cap it off, he’s also the Chairman of the Technical Committee, aside from his other position revealed in the by-line above.
Suffice to say that this ‘Sporting Prince’ eats, sleeps and breathes sports, with a well-decorated CV (squash champion and national cricket team member no less) to prove it. He therefore more than fits the bill when it comes to organising KL2017. His responsibilities are many, but they all point to the accomplishment of one thing – ensuring that the Games’ Constitution and Rules are followed. So far, he says, it’s going according to plan.
Picking up the gauntlet
With an almost endless list of considerations to mull over, it’s no walk in the park. “The last SEA Games was in Singapore in 2015, so we had only two years to prepare for the Games,” says Tunku Tan Sri Imran. “It was quite the challenge to draw up the plans and get everyone on the 16 committees within MASOC on track!” These 16 are spearheaded by government agencies; the medical committee for instance, is steered by the Ministry of Health.
Once the blueprint had been finalised, the implementation phase kicked off. “Deciding which sports and events to include was an interesting affair,” recalls the Prince. “We had to contemplate several factors in the selection process, such as cost, participant numbers and popularity. But that is not all.
“According to the Constitution, there’s a number of compulsory sports along with optional ones, so it was a task balancing everything out to ensure a wide number of sports and events are represented, with adequate participation – at least four countries in a sport and three in an event. In the end we settled on a mix of close to 40 different sports and more than ten times that number in events, making this the largest ever SEA Games.”
Enlivening the people
The Games will see an influx of thousands of athletes and their entourage from neighbouring countries. Getting them to feel comfortable and fresh before their big day is of prominent importance, but MASOC has it covered. “They will be put up in 4- or 5-star hotels mostly in and around Kuala Lumpur, and each contingent will have its own headquarter hotel,” reveals Tunku Tan Sri Imran. “Accommodation will also depend on the sporting location, to minimise travel time for the athletes.”
On the other side of the crowd barriers are, of course, the spectators, who he trusts would be wearing smiles as well. Not only are the venues within easy reach, the tickets costs are too, as Tunku Tan Sri Imran has strongly advocated that they be affordable. Although the finalised ticket prices have not been announced at the time of printing, he assures that a family would be able to enjoy a day of sports without breaking the bank!
For those who can’t make it to the venues, they can catch the action on the telly as it happens. It was tricky to get the gamut of scheduling and programming right so there are no clashes, especially during the finals, and MASOC relied on the experts. “There is a host broadcaster which is a consortium of RTM, Media Prima and Astro, which will handle the entire production, tasked with covering everything from the first to last day.”
Even before any of these take place, MASOC has been catalysing enthusiasm for the Games. The Baton Run and the Torch Run for instance, have invigorated the people of SEA and Malaysia in particular, mounting their anticipation for this momentous event. KL2017 is also alive and well in the mass media. According to Tunku Tan Sri Imran, they have only just got started. “Look out for more SEA Games excitement after Hari Raya Aidilfitri!”
A Malaysian Dream
Just like his fellow countrymen, the Prince hopes that Malaysia would emulate its success in the 2001 SEA Games and emerge as the overall winner of the Games. “Our athletes have been training hard and have received a lot of support. Plus, they have the home ground advantage so they have to seize the opportunity to excel!”
On this note, he urges Malaysians to fill up the seats. “It will be good if they look at sports as something that has importance in their lives, and is a crucial part of being a Malaysian. Who knows, this might inspire new athletes to represent the country!”