LOSING THE PLOT

This evening I was invited to attend the ATP launch for the Malaysian Open, a multi million dollar tennis tournament that really does no benefit to the country except make some people happy as they would have pleased the first family.

Here we have millions of our ringgit being spent on a week of tennis, with catering from five star hotel for the VVIP’s and some quarters while as rightly put by one journalist sitting beside me, his child had to bring refreshments from home for her sports day at school as there was no budget for it.
Seriously, how will this tournament benefit tennis in the country other then the fact that LTAM will pocket RM300,000 as sanction fee plus maybe another RM30,000 for incidentals. Will the organisors or LTAM come forward and tell us just how many technical officials will be exposed, just how many young talented tennis players will get a chance to play/train in the academies in Europe or East Europe with all the money we are putting into the event.
The Minister was asked what was the tourist figures for the event last year, and the she answered that it was not available in figures but in terms of rooms it was 1,300 rooms. Let’s give the Minister the benefit of doubt and take it as 1,300 rooms instead of 1,300 room nights. And for this year she expects 2,600 rooms, once omitting if its room nights or rooms.
So we do a little bit of maths here, 2,600 rooms x 10 nights at RM200 per room per night equals to RM5,200,000. And that goes to the hotels, and it does not make sense just how our country benefits as a whole.
Just how much are the likes of Ministry of Youth & Sports, National Sports Council, National Sports Institute, Ministry of Tourism and Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur spending for this event? Care to make the figures public?

Well here is the Bernama story on the launch, minus the bits and pieces I wrote above…..

Nine of the current ATP World Tour Tennis stars have confirmed their participation in this year’s edition of the prestigious ATP World Tour 250 – Malaysian Open, which will be held at Putra Stadium, Bukit Jalil from Sept 25 to Oct 3.

Among the star line-up is the tournament’s defending champion, Nikolay Davydenko.

“I really enjoyed the tournament in Kuala Lumpur last year and it was the stepping stone for some of my best tennis played over the next months.

“The organisation and atmosphere were wonderful and it was an easy decision for me to return this year, to defend my title in Kuala Lumpur,” said the world number six Davydenko in a recorded video interview.

Besides the Russian, also confirming their return to Malaysia are world number five Robin Soderling, Tomas Berdych (ranked eighth), David Ferrer (12th), Mikhail Youzhny (14th), Marcos Baghdatis (25th), Lleyton Hewitt (30th) and Asia’s top ranked player Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan (41st).

Meanwhile, world No. 18 Nicolas Almagro will be making his debut at this year’s competition.

The official launching ceremony of this year’s competition was held Monday at the tournament’s official hotel, the Mandarin Oriental, by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, who represented the prime minister’s wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the tournament’s patron.

Rosmah, in her speech read by Dr Ng, noted that the competition, regarded as one of the best ATP World Tour events in Asia, would inspire the budding tennis players in Malaysia.

“This tournament is quite unique as it is not only about world-class tennis, but also includes clinics for our aspiring junior players. It is my hope that these young players will one day become champions in the Malaysian Open tournament,” said Rosmah.

In the field of tourism, she said, the tournament would also enable Malaysia to be showcased in an excellent manner.

Kuala Lumpur was the fifth city in Asia after Tokyo, Bangkok, Beijing and Shanghai, to host the world-renowned tennis tournament.

The ATP World Tour 250 – Malaysian Open, organised by IMG and supported by the Malaysian government, offers a total prize money of US$947,750 (about RM3,345,557).

Tournament director Nick Freyer, who is also IMG senior vice-president and head of Tennis for Asia said he would like to make the tournament the best it it could be.

He noted that the organisation of the inaugural Malaysian Open last year was rewarded with the “Award for Operational Excellence” from the ATP World Tour.

Under the event’s format, it will feature 28 players in the singles main draw and 16 teams in the doubles event.

“The singles qualifying draw will be open to 32 players. Two qualifying singles will be allocated to local players.

“Besides that, there will be once again an opportunity for local players to join forces with one of the top seeded singles stars to play in the doubles main draw,” said Freyer.