Tuesday, 9 August 2016
Bangkok Olympics 2024? On your bike!
The Rio Olympic Games have got off to a sparkling start for both Thailand and Britain already.
Khun Sopita Tanasan winning gold in 48kg weightlifting and Khun Sinphet Kruaithong picking up a medal for Surin Province in 56kg weightlifting, and the heartbreaking story of his grandmother passing away while watching him compete.
More happily, Britain won gold with Adam Peaty in the 100M breaststroke with two world records in two days, and the heartwarming story of his #OlympicNan cheering on her grandson. And Jazz in the pool gaining Silver. And sadly Britain so far missing out on gold in Cycling after various road crashes.
And surely in British Cycling is a sign for the future. For it was a sport with almost no UK ability until the last few years. But now with two of the top 3 Greatest British Olympians in Chris Hoy with 6 golds and Bradley Wiggins with 4 golds.
And even Swimming waited 28 years for its first gold medal. While UK Rowing has set a blistering pace with Steve Redgrave’s 5 golds and Matthew Pinsent’s 4 golds.
And a total of 3 medals in Moscow 1980 (mostly bronze) to 9 medals in London 2012 including 4 golds.
Indeed the UK performance at the Olympics was always fairly ho-hum outmatched only by England’s dismal performance in the main football tournaments.
But now Britain’s dynamic Sports Minister, Kent’s Tracey Crouch, an FA Referee, has hurried back from maternity leave to fly the flag for the success of UK Sport in Rio.
As well as excellent Sport England brand work such as #SheCan for women's sports.
~~Britain moves up a gear on sports~~
UK success now is almost totally down to two factors in the last decade or so: the potential and realisation of the London 2012 Games won in 2005. And the focus on the professionalisation of UK Sport. British Football may have won the World Cup in 1966 with Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick on a meal of egg and chips and a cup of tea.
But those days are gone.
Sports nutrition and scientific formulations of exercise of ten through University departments, and recovery are key as well as funding a stable of athletes for the future – Adam Peaty being sponsored by Sport England and Lottery funds from c.$20,000 a year to c.$40,000.
And London’s winning bid for 2012 was based on not just specific and worthwhile mega-regeneration projects in the East of London, but also revitalising grassroots sport, and community sport. An approach that’s been largely successful.
While Barcelona in 1992 was another icon of regeneration with tourist nights soaring from 3.8M then to 15M now. And London 2012 adding to its 48M tourism nights.
London Ride just last week – almost unheard of to stage such major events around the Olympics - testifies to the new UK appetite for cycling and sports.
Leaving aside the medal haul in 2012 which to some extent is down to a home turf and home crowd advantage, there has been even greater success on community sports.
UK participation in sports rose from 12M in 2005 to 15.8M in 2015, with 98% of children playing sports for at least 2 hours a week up from 25%. And 40% of schoolchildren playing sports for 5 hours or more.
And active sports not just darts or snooker or EA FIFA.
And, as with Rio now, the London Games were run on a much tighter budget: $6Bn and $15BN than the excessive spurges of previous Games such as Sochi’s $60BN and Beijing’s $40BN, and almost every other previous Olympic city teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, or stadiums left empty afterwards.
And surely there’s the sign for Bangkok. Is it so outrageous to revisit Thailand’s 2008 bid for the Games, as rejected then on the basis of weak infrastructure?
For the 2024 Games shouldn’t Bangkok be a contender given the opening of the Purple Line and further development of the Metro? Mega-successes that could only be added to with traffic control and autonomous cars and buses, and cleaner air, by 2024?
While the Games would provide the opportunity to dig deep for regeneration projects such as the Chaopraya Promenade even the reopening of key klongs. And certainly to reverse Bangkok’s lack of green space and parks and, as in London, revitalisation of the dockland areas.
After all, ASEAN will never host the Winter Games – perhaps some iceskating or icehockey in BKK.
And what an advert for Thailand and its key tourism trade the Games would be.
Not just Rowing or Sailing on the Chaopraya against the backdrop of Wat Arun and Santa Cruz.
Not just Athletics or Volley ball in front of the Royal Palace or Golden Swing.
Not just Cycling for New Nan.
Nor even the expansion of the 10 Team Refugee athletes, now with a pool of 65M to select from.
But imagine the spectacle of Tokyo 2020’s 5 new sports developed by Thailand in 2024: Baseball (American English for softball) in Ayutthaya, Rockclimbing in Krabi, Golf in Hua Hin, Skateboarding in Siam Square or Surfing in Chanthaburi.
And certainly new or display sports such as SepakTakraw or Mixed Martial Arts and Muay Thai and Squash could be featured before then?
Having seen the Phuket Beach Games in 2014, I know Thailand need no lessons in hosting major sporting events on land or sea. I only marvelled at how much more could be done in both promotion and attendance.
~~Thailand and UK Team~~
An Olympian effort by UK and Thailand could be a massive boost for both sports industries and legacy potential: why shouldn’t every Thai town have an Olympic-size swimming pool or football ground or athletic track? And why not Premier League football across Thailand around the Olympics, with the Women’s teams, or Paralympic sports, to fill those pools and stadia?
While the economic benefits are clear from UK efforts for London2012: from 2012 until 2020, London will host 19 world championships for various sports. A MICE and Tourism boost without parallel. And not just for one year but as long as people are interested in sport.
The missed or fumbled opportunities though are even greater: Kent missed out on the 2012 Games just an hour away from the Olympic stadia, with Thailand’s Olympic team based in Manchester and the HS1 hispeed train and Tour de France cycling in Kent not effectively promoted and developed - and all now frittered away.
And, picking upon the London 2012 learning, Thailand could benefit from an innovative shift in the Olympics with its ASEAN friends and neighbours? The problems around Hanoi 2019 have sunk Vietnam’s hopes of major sports spectacles for the immediate future. But, as with the point on Cycling and New Nan above, shouldn’t the cost of the Games and value be spread amongst ASEAN as well as Thailand’s provinces?
Indeed the expense of the Games for a city – and previous misfires – reduced bids from 8 for London2012 to 3 for Tokyo2020.
So why not the Yangon Marathon too? Handball against the backdrop of Angkor? Swimming in Saigon?
Surely Laos would welcome Archery at the Plain of Jars, or Kayaking in Paxse and the 4,000 Islands, or Ang Nam Ngun reservoir.
Again, a sparkling boost to tourism in those nations as well as a boon for preservation and sympathetic regeneration of key sites such as The Basson or Cercle Sportif or Bagan, as well as saving and revitalising Yangon or Phnom Penh’s faded UNESCO colonial architecture and waterfront.
~~UK and Thailand and ASEAN Commonwealth~~
A task that could be made easier with the support of UK and Team Commonwealth in Asia with Malaysia and Singapore and Brunei and Papua New Guinea and Australia and New Zealand and Canada and Fiji and Solomon islands.
Certainly something more for Thailand and ASEAN cities than just skyscrapers and cement in the Age of Climate Change.
And would it be so outrageous for say a Paralympics or Invictus games to focus on Cambodia and Laos and landmine victims, to stimulate not just MAG landmine clearance? Along with UK and Thai hospitals and universities working together on the latest medical and technical advances in prosthetics arms and legs?
With the end of Polio, the Rotary and Lions, or Specsavers and the Thai Red Cross or Cabbages and Condoms and Operation Smile, would no doubt be keen to help on other social programmes, invariably delivered faster and easier with sport, such as vaccinations or cataracts or cleft palate checkups.
I was horrified to read just this week about Melioidosis in Thailand with c.1,100 deaths and completely preventable, and the measles pandemics in Myanmar with over 30 deaths.
And Thai-UK Sports could be active in awareness, whether men's prostate or the other 200 cancers that are the world's biggest killer with 8M deaths:
While UK Football has been effective in social programmes such as Kick-Out Racism, and sports programmes such as Arsenal Summer Schools and goalkeeping courses in the school holidays.
Even contamination sites such as Klity Creek or Thor mercury are overdue a cleanup.
And, with Thailand on the road to full democracy again after this week's Charter vote, there's an opportunity to unite the nation, given opposing votes in the North, North-East and Deep South and fall in FDI? After Brexit and the concern in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and economic shocks, UK might well want to take reform lessons from Thailand.
And as a Brit with Irish heritage, like 6M others (as well as Scottish heritage) it's no surprise applications for Eire-EU passports are up 73% from just one month of Brexit silliness.
And by 2024 the UNSDG30 will be in full swing from the kickoff earlier this year with initiatives such as advertising industry leading the way for brands, and Common Ground.
And dynamic brands such as Zoggs or Ben and Jerrys, or the Meiji Kent focus of Hitachi or Toshiba or Panasonic, and Benelux brands such as Alpro or Philips or Unilever should be active in UK.
All alongside the existing work done on UK Beach Games in Margate, Kent's Phuket if you will, and East Kent’s Blue flag beaches and Ramsgate Yacht Week, the largest sailing event outside Cowes, (it’s not always rainy and cold in UK) - a shoo-in for Volleyball and Beach Soccer and Beach Polo.
And there's Lucky Iron Fish in Cambodia or Lifebuoy hygiene programmes in East Africa (I never knew there was a specific way to wash your hands).
So Bangkok and ASEAN pedalling hard for the Olympic Games in 2024?
Or is it 2028?
Tim Garbutt runs Sincerity Advertising and PR agency, soon to open offices in Bangkok, and Surin Village School charity with the first school built in Isaan, and standing for UK Parliament for better links between UK and Thailand and ASEAN.
* Misc articles: http://sincerityagency.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/misc-articles-updates-july-2016.html