(SINGAPORE) The decision to move the venue of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) village - just six months after Singapore successfully clinched the hosting rights - was because costs had soared to two- and-a-half times the original budget.
This was revealed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Beijing yesterday, in its first comments since news broke last Saturday that the YOG organising committee would move the athletes' village from the National University of Singapore's (NUS) new mega-campus in Clementi to the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) campus off Jalan Bahar instead.
Spiralling construction and fuel costs were cited as the reasons for the switch, coupled with the fact that the Singapore government would have to fast-track the development of the NUS campus to make it on time for the YOG, which begins in August 2010.
IOC Coordination Commission chairman Sergey Bubka told AFP that Singapore had 'no time to lose' in its preparations for the inaugural sporting event.
Mr Bubka, a 44-year-old retired Ukrainian pole vaulting gold medallist, said that operational planning should begin by the end of September this year.
'They've got no time to lose from concept to operations,' he said, as he revealed the need behind changing the plan for the YOG village.
'Because of the rise in oil and construction costs, we had to find an alternative as the original costs had risen by 2.5 times,' he said.
The cost of building the 19 hectare University Town campus at NUS is about $500 million.
During the bidding process last year, the IOC had expressed concern about the completion timeline of the village, but fortunately the 200 ha NTU campus had been proposed as a suitable alternative.
Meanwhile, YOG organising committee chairman Ng Ser Miang said in the AFP report that Singapore faced a challenge but insisted they were ready for it.
Mr Ng, who is also Singapore's representative on the IOC's executive board, said: 'We have plenty to do and we are aware of the responsibilities.'
To date, Singapore has already invested $500 million in the development of local sports, he added.
The YOG will feature 3,500 athletes, aged 14 to 18, taking part in 26 different sports. A further 900 officials are also expected to fly in for the two-week Games.
This article was first published in The Business Times on Aug 7, 2008.