The dollars and sense of the YOG
Sept 2010 , By LEE U-WEN, Business Times
[SINGAPORE] Hosting last month’s Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Singapore was, in Vivian Balakrishnan’s own words, “not cheap”, given the government forked out $387 million to organise the 12-day event. This was more than
three times the initial projection of $122 million, and the Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister admits the organising committee severely underestimated the requirements 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 (International Olympic Committee) and ourselves were starting from scratch,” he said in Parliament yesterday as he took pains to justify the government’s decision to bid for the event three years ago. More than 5,000 teenage athletes and officials from 205 countries were in town for the inaugural Games, which ended on Aug 26.
As Dr Balakrishnan fielded questions in the House during an intense, 50-minute debate on YOG, he gave a blow-by-blow breakdown of how the budget was spent, citing specific areas.
Logistics, covering food and logistics, cost $44 million in total, while the bill for technological investments and upgrades came in at $97 million. The minister defended this expenditure, saying the government “had a reason”
for underestimating this aspect. “We didn’t think, at that point in time, that we were going to host a Games
which are at world-class standard with world-class timing and information systems,” he said in response
to a question from non-constituency MP Sylvia Lim, who wanted to know whether there was due diligence
when preparing the original budget, which was much lower than bidding rival Moscow had put on the
Dr Balakrishnan reiterated a point his ministry made prior to YOG: that many of the final specifications and standards of each event – which had to be pegged to World Youth Championship levels – were determined only after
Singapore won the hosting rights in February 2008.
When it emerged that YOG would cost more than the government had thought, Dr Balakrishnan had to answer two questions: would Singapore still have gone ahead with its bid had it known it would cost $387 million; and, after
doing so, has it received value for money?
“Once I was convinced that the answer was ‘yes’, I had to proceed,” he said, adding that he had to convince
the rest of the Cabinet before getting the approval for the additional funds from the Finance Ministry.
The other option that crossed his mind was to “blindly cut the budget” and deliver a sub-standard YOG, but this would not have been fair to the athletes, the IOC or Singapore. “At the end of the day, you want to host something that would be a source of collective pride for all Singaporeans,” he said.
Revenue-wise, ticket and merchandise sales are expected to have yielded about $7 million – a “low figure” because the organisers wanted to make the event accessible to all. Companies big and small contributed $60 million of sponsorship in kind, while others such as Samsung, Atos, Panasonic and DBS gave $7.6 million in cash.
About 70 per cent of the budget, or $260 million, was awarded in contracts to local companies.
Another $46 million went to overseas firms with local subsidiaries. Dr Balakrishnan urged them to “leverage on
their experience” and go on to compete for other major international projects worldwide.
Additional tourism receipts are likely to have amounted to about $57 million, while Visa recently reported
that spending on foreign Visa-branded payment cards in Singapore increased 38 per cent to $154 million.
All in all, YOG did well to profile Singapore to an international audience, as more people will “sit up and take notice” of what the country is capable of. “Now everyone knows we are a beautiful, dynamic, creative and global city
that they would want to visit, live, work, play and invest in,” Dr Balakrishnan said.
Breaking down YOG’s
projected $387m budget ( $m)
Upgrading of venues and equipment 76.0
Live broadcasts 45.5
Operational costs 14.3
International torch relay 7.0
Cultural and education programme 5.4
Sponsorship received (cash and in kind) 67.3
YOG Over budget, but we’d do it again
THE NEW PAPER, Thursday, September 16 2010, REPORT: LEDIATI TAN
HOSTING the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) was not cheap, conceded Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, in Parliament yesterday. But it was money well-spent.
He was responding to questions by Members of Parliament (MPs) on why the budget for the YOG tripled from the original estimate of US$75 million (S$100 million) to S$387 million. Said Dr Balakrishnan: “Our initial budget estimates during the bid phase were clearly inaccurate. We got it wrong.
“This was the first ever Youth Olympic Games in the world. Quite frankly, both the IOC (International Olympic
Committee) as well as us were starting from scratch. “We therefore underestimated the requirements
and the consequential cost of several major functional areas which were necessary to host these Games.” Moscow, which was the other finalist in the bid to host the YOG, had a budget of US$180 million.
The alternative, said Dr Balakrishnan, would be to blindly cut the budget and deliver a substandard YOG. But that would neither have been right nor fair to the athletes, to the IOC and to Singaporeans.
Would we still have bid for the Games had we known it would cost $387 million?
Did we get value for money?
“The answer to both these questions was ‘Yes’,” said Dr Balakrishnan. Why?
- International branding for Singapore
Positive image of Singapore will attract both visitors and investors.
- Local companies benefited
$260 million worth of local contracts (about 70 per cent of projected budget) went to local companies.
- Boost for local sports culture
Locals will benefit from the upgraded or new sports facilities such as at Toa Payoh Sports Hall, Singapore
Sports School’s 10m air pistol range and the new Tampines Bike Park. Singapore is now better placed to host
international sporting events.
- Tourists spent more here
YOG brought in an estimated $57 million in additional tourist receipts. Visa reported that spending on foreign Visa-branding payment cards in Singapore went up by some $154 million during the YOG. This is an increase of 38 per cent compared to the same period last year. Sale of merchandise and tickets are expected to
fetch $7 million.
Where the $387m went
PROJECTED COSTS OF THE BIG TICKET ITEMS:
- $97 million on technology
- $76 million on upgrading sports venues and equipment
- $45.5 million on live broadcast of the Games
- $44 million for logistics such as cleaning and transport
- $18 million on security
- $14.3 million on operational requirements such as catering, laundry services, language translation and interpretation work
- $7 million on international torch relay across five continents
- $5.4 million on Culture and Education Programme
- $60 million from sponsorship in kind from companies
- $7.6 million in cash sponsorship from companies such as Samsung, Atos Origin, Panasonic and DBS
Sept 2010, 早报
新加坡新闻 2010年9月16日 星期四
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