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Sports Notes - THAILAND HOSTS ASIAN GAMES - AGAINST ALL ODDS

 



James Loving - National Radio Text Service

 

Bangkok, Thailand

December 11, 1998

DOWN TO THE WIRE AS TIME WAS RUNNING OUT

Despite the economic turmoil Thailand has been faced with since July of 1997, they have recovered to be worthy hosts of the 13th Asian Games. The Thai's prevailed notwithstanding the criticism that they weren't committed to the task.

Thailand was unanimously awarded to host the 13th Asian Games the games eight years ago by the participating Asian nations. Just three years ago the nations were openly critical of the lack of preparation. It was suggested that Thailand be disqualified from hosting the games.

There was very little progress to get the job done until Prime Minister CHAUN LEEKPAI returned to office November '97. Leekpai assigned Deputy Prime Minister Bhichai Rattakul to oversee the project. Bhichai then appointed Santiparb Tejavanija to call the shots to bring the preparations for the games to fruition.

A number of new sports facilities were constructed at the various venue sites in the Bangkok area. Down to the wire construction of roads leading to the venues were completed just before the first day of the games.

Santiparb told the Asian Games official newspaper, The Village Voice before the opening of the games, "Well, let's just say that had we been given more time, the time we should have had, we could have done things better. But despite the limitations, I'm confident that Thailand will come up top in hosting this event.

"We've raised about (3 billion baht) from the sponsors which is more that the Japanese were able to find for the Hiroshima Games in 1994. So far, we've spent about 2 billion baht on the organizational component. Thailand will certainly make a profit from the games."

As one Japanese reporter said a week prior to the official first day of the games, "I don't know how the Thai's do it but they always seem to get it done."

The tremendous effort it took to pull it off was evidenced during the Opening Ceremonies. Over 5,000 school children were used as talent in the Ceremonies. Wearing colorful outfits they danced and shaped formations. The spirit they displayed was a true showing of love for their country and a zealous pride to get the job done.

Yes, there were mistakes but the children had the mind set and determination to overcome them. When they were out of position in a formation they quickly recognized it and scurried to the correct place. It was not noticeable to the fans without field glasses or markedly visible on television.

After the ceremony the children gathered around the outside the stadium, their faces beaming with joy that they had done a good thing for the games and their country.

The success of Thailand's future lies in the hands of its children. If the enthusiasm and commitment was any indication, Thailand's future is grand.

NOTE: At press time the Thai baht was valued at 35.76 to the US $. When the economy is strong it rates 25-1. In the past two months the baht has gained strength from 39.47 Oct 5, 36.43 Nov 9 and 35.96 Dec 7.

* * *

FIRST GOLD: - Japan's NAOKO TAKAHASHI won the game's first Gold Medal. The 26-year-old marathon runner broke the Asian Games record with a time of 2:21.46 in the 42.195 ~ kilometer race.

Naoko hails from the central Japanese district of Gifu noted for it's decorated paper umbrellas, fans and lanterns. As an early teen she asked her parents what school club she should join. "They said to join the least expensive one which was the athletics club," she said. "They were right."

* * *

SAY WHAT??? - The Asian games slogan is "Friendship Beyond Frontiers." With that said, the real life problems that exist between Pakistan and India surfaced during a snooker match. During the match against Pakistan's MOHAMMED SALEH, India's YASHIN MERCHANT committed a foul and protested to the referee that he didn't.

The referee refused to change his decision. Merchant sought help from his teammates. Several Indian team members went to the playing area. One team member wrote a protest letter on the snooker table. The debate caused a 15 minute delay which goes against the grain of snooker etiquette. When order was restored Merchant went on to win the contest 5-4....

* * *

BUG OUT: - Insects have been biting and stinging players fans and officials at the Asian Games Baseball park. Experts were called in and order the groundskeepers too a brand of insecticide. Special lights designed to lure, trap and electrocute the pests were also installed....

* * *

TOO YOUNG???: - The NORTH KOREAN gymnastics team was accused of having what appeared to be underage members. Several of the girls were very tiny and where thought to be less than the required age of 16.

The controversy continued for several days until the coach of the team was asked for the girls passports. They were told the person who had them was meeting someone at the airport....

* * *

SWEET REVENGE: - Oman coach BADU VIERA coached his team to a 4-2 victory over Iran. Viera coached Iran and took them to their first ever World Cup finals in 20 years before being ousted. Iran has eight members from the team that Viera guided to a 2-1 World Cup victory over the United States team in Lyon France.

* * *

SPORTSMANSHIP: - The Thai people are unusual from the average sports fan. During the first half of a women's basketball game between THAILAND and KAZAKHSTAN the Thai fans were cheering out of appreciation of the effort and not support, of the Kazakhstan team when they made baskets. As the game progressed and the outcome was on the line the cheers turned to polite applause. Is this a case of only in Thailand??? The taller Kazakhstan team won the game 79-67.

MORE SPORTSMANSHIP: - In a soccer match Thailand vs. Lebanon Thai fans did the what would be considered unthinkable in other countries. After a Lebanon player went down with an injury most of the capacity Haumark Stadium crown of 60,000 cheered when he returned to the game. Thailand won the game 1-0...

* * *

GO FIGURE: With NICK VAN EXEL wanting to play in Europe and wanting to sue the NBA the question is FOR WHAT??? NBA players are asking for MO MONEY. They're locked out and now make NO MONEY. Van Excel wants to play in Europe for probably LESS MONEY. Is the lawsuit against the NBA... GO MONEY????

 

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