Monday 5 April 2010

Excited about the Youth Olympics? Sure, two years ago

I remember it like it was two years ago.

That's because it was two years ago when after much hype and suspense, Singapore was declared the host of the first Youth Olympic Games (YOG) - beating out mighty Moscow no less.

Oh, how the former Cold War superpower and long-time supplier of James Bond villains had fallen.

And oh, how Singapore celebrated. We won something with the word "Olympic" in it! That's always a good thing. It's called branding, my friend.

And that was when our interest in the YOG peaked.

It's like being told you got a new job. That's the most excited you'll ever feel about a job because after that, you'll realise a job is just a job. Unless you get a sexy new co-worker with a proclivity for wearing mini-skirts and knee-high boots.

Singaporeans like me became so disinterested in the YOG that the Government expressed concern.

Sports Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said: “All the effort that we invest in this will be wasted if every Singaporean doesn't feel that this is a once-in-a-lifetime (thing).”

An announced theme song composed by Singapore Idol judge and Vasantham fan Ken Lim didn't help - and may have actually frightened people away.

Yet, when 320,000 tickets went on sale last Wednesday, organisers have reportedly said that they are "definitely quite confident that ticket sales will be good". I shall refrain from making a scoffing noise because of the wear and tear to my throat.

The trouble is much has happened in the two years since we crushed the Ruskies.

We lost and found Mas Selamat - although technically, it was the Malaysians who caught the escaped terrorist but let's not split hairs.

We hosted the first F1 night race to great acclaim and the second one a year later to dwindling crowds.

We hosted the first Asian Youth Games, also known as the AYG, which admittedly, I confused with the YOG because both have the letters Y and G. Maybe I've been hanging around Ris Low too much.

Unlike the F1 night race, last year's AYG suffered crowds so small the first time out that they didn't even have a chance to dwindle.

The much anticipated opening of Singapore's first integrated resort, Resorts World Sentosa, also fizzled out. Attractions at its Universal Studios theme park were shut down. Even Tom Jones cancelled his concert at RWS - twice.

Sir Tom Jones!

He who has been chugging along for 45 years since his first hit, It's Not Unusual, in 1965. He who survived that last note in the James Bond theme song, Thunderball. He who managed to make an incomprehensible Prince song, Kiss, semi-comprehensible.

Yet, faced with the RWS audience two Fridays ago, the laryngitis-stricken 69-year-old singer thought to himself, "I'm done."

Considering these disappointments, is it any wonder I'm not raising my hopes for the YOG?

It has been mentioned that perhaps some controversy might help create buzz for the August games.

Almost on cue, The New Paper reported that during the YOG Chefs de Mission Seminar last month, local female volunteers were propositioned by foreign Olympic Games officials. Ooh, a possible sex scandal?

I'm clicking online to buy YOG tickets now! No, wait, what's this about an alleged Jack Neo sex video? I'm going to look for that instead.

This wouldn't happen in Moscow.

- Published in The New Paper, 5 April 2010