KL all set to greet Asean for Games

It is the biggest multi-sport event to hit Malaysia's shores in 16 years as Kuala Lumpur prepares to host the 29th SEA Games, and the country is confident of putting on a show for its Asean neighbours.

With close to 5,000 of the region's best athletes arriving over the coming days, organisers are putting the finishing touches at competition venues in the capital to ensure everything is ready for the Aug 19-30 Games.

Singapore chef de mission Milan Kwee said: "There'll be great excitement, especially for Malaysia. They have been working very hard."

Despite some teething organisational issues - Singapore football coach Richard Tardy was informed of an 11.30am press conference just minutes before it started yesterday and had to be whisked to the venue - these were understandable and quickly resolved, added Kwee.

"I was told there were some hiccups, double beds provided instead of twin beds, but that has been sorted out so very good."

Security at the Games is paramount and Malaysia - who last hosted the Games in 2001 - have spared no expense. About 7,000 public safety officials from various agencies, including the police and commando forces, have been deployed. KL police chief Amar Singh said it was "to contain any extremist or terrorist elements".

At the Eastin Hotel, where the Republic's netball team are staying, policemen guard all the entrances and exits, with metal detectors installed in each of them.

With near-full occupancy at the 12 designated Games hotels, there has been a spillover into other hotels and this has been a boon for the tourism industry, noted Malaysian Association of Hotels chief executive Yap Lip Seng.

Organisers are doing what they can to spur locals to fill the stadiums, with users of the Rapid Rail Service entitled to a 50 per cent discount until Aug 31. The streets in the city centre are also decorated with LED-designed pictograms of the various sports offered.

The response has been encouraging, with several sold-out events in netball, basketball, silat, swimming, futsal and track cycling, while 90 per cent of tickets to Saturday's opening ceremony at the Bukit Jalil Stadium have been sold.

Part-time driver Manap Taib said: "You can feel the buzz. I'm trying to get tickets to the football game against Singapore."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2017, with the headline 'KL all set to greet Asean for Games'. Print Edition | Subscribe