Sports left out by APEC 2020

Not too long ago, I had the editor of Twentytwo13 send me a message, wondering why I haven’t submitted any articles for the past two weeks, or is it three.

I’m not procrastinating, I promise.

Firstly, with football competitions cancelled and football activities on lockdown, I can’t think of anything interesting to write.

Secondly, I was busy with promotional work for APEC 2020 which ended recently as the new host, New Zealand organised the Informal Seniors’ Official Meeting (ISOM).

I’ve actually spent a good one year away from sports. The focus with my years of experience in marketing and promotions was on developing a communications campaign that would have Malaysians rallying, giving their support and endorsing the country as the proud host of APEC 2020.

After numerous challenges, including the change in government earlier this year, everyone was finally in sync with the campaign. So finally, I could restore my sanity and execute what was collectively agreed upon. From here, everything was on autopilot.

And so I thought. The Movement Control Order (MCO) happened and it forced everyone to get back to the drawing board. I swore constantly for 34 minutes and at such a volume that had the walls of my office waving like they were possessed.

To make a long story short, all those involved did amazingly well.

But I had one beef – why wasn’t there any discourse regarding sports in the numerous high-level meetings and working group discussions held throughout the year among the 21-member APEC economies?

Sports-related working group discussions at APEC would have enabled state sports officials to facilitate coordinated actions and manage sports challenges, including sharing best practices and discussing openly about what works and what does not work so that we can all learn from the experiences and expertise of one another.

There were working group discussions and meetings regarding small-medium enterprises, health, women’s empowerment, security, agriculture, tourism and of course, trade. Sports was left out.

Having a working group discussion exclusively for sports would have potentially provided an avenue to explore steps forward for member economies in boosting their investments in sports, to promote capacity building, and to drive sustainability and inclusivity in their sports policy-making within the region.

Genuinely, it would be very unlikely to expect Malaysia to pioneer a working group discussion pertaining to sports. Due to the lack of economic measure or valuation, sports is perceived to have too little economic significance to the country.

But don’t worry, here are some juicy upsides.

As I write this article, Malaysia is actively working towards recognising sports as an industry. Work at the Youth and Sports Ministry, as well as at the International Trade and Industries Ministry is already under way to help position sports fairly within the country’s economy.

We expect differently from New Zealand though. Sports seems to be much celebrated there.

As reported, the sports industry contributed a staggering US$6.8 billion to New Zealand’s GDP.

The country is also home to the most successful sports franchise in history – the New Zealand All Blacks – which has a winning ratio of 77.4 per cent, a ratio measured since they played their first test match in 1903. Mental.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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