Games-Singapore defends Youth Olympics cost overrun

SINGAPORE, Sept 16 (Reuters) - The Singapore government has admitted it underestimated how much it would cost to host the inaugural Youth Olympics, which saw initial estimates of S$107 million ($80 million) balloon to S$387 million.

“We were plain wrong,” Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Vivian Balakrishnan said in comments published by local media on Thursday.

“We ... underestimated the requirements and the consequential cost for several major functional areas in hosting the Games.

“You just look at the cost of feeding people, moving people, transport and logistics, that already was over S$40 million.”

The minister said Singapore had benefited from the expensive 12-day event by pushing the city state’s brand and showcasing its ability to host big events.

“Singapore will now be remembered as the country that hosted the world’s first Olympics for youth,” he said.

“The investment is an amount that will give us value for money in terms of positioning and marketing ourselves, and making sure we are on the international community’s radar screens.”

The event, which saw 3,500 teenage athletes from more than 200 National Olympic Committees compete in 26 sports, was praised by IOC President Jacques Rogges but was heavily criticised by media for its lack of big names and poor attendance.

The Austrian city of Innsbruck will host the first Winter Youth Olympics in 2012 and eastern China’s Nanjing will stage the second summer games in 2014. (Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford; To query or comment on this story email