Thailand, which hosted the Asian Games four times, has been cited as an example to dissuade Vietnam from hosting the 2019 Asiad.
Thailand spent large investments hosting the Asian Games in 1966, 1970, 1978, and 1998, believing that doing so would help their national sports program grow the best in Asia.
However, in reality Thailand only became the best in Southeast Asia.
In 2012, Vietnam was awarded the right to host the multi-sports Asian Games in 2019. Since then, the majority of citizens have voiced protests against their country organizing the event because of the expenses it will incur. A recent survey by Tuoi Tre newspaper that attracted 2,716 online votes shows that 83 percent of the respondents believe Vietnam should not host the competition, while 15.7 percent believe it should.
The story of Thailand
In the 1960s and 1970s, Thailand was ranked only after Japan and the Philippines in all of Asia regarding national-level sports development.
The Thai government approved a plan to excel to the international standard by spending a large sum hosting four different Asian Games.
After holding the four events from 1966 to 1988, Thailand could only surpass the Philippines and other regional rivals to top Southeast Asia in medal ranking, but had to accept sixth place in Asia after Japan, China, South Korea, Iran, and North Korea.
Surely, Thailand secured its place in Asia’s top six by hosting the events but it bowed out of the top ten ranking at the 1982 Asiad in India.
Most recently, at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, Thailand won only 11 gold medals and ranked ninth.
At the international level, Thailand had to wait until 1976 to win their first Olympic medal in Canada, and twenty years later, in 1996 the country bagged the first Olympic gold medal in boxing.
Thai athletes can only compete at international tournaments in two sports: boxing and weightlifting.
It appears that Thailand failed in their plan to rise to the top in Asia and the world, and thus their large investments in the Asiad games were wasted.
Such investments did not even turn a profit. It was reported that Thailand spent a total of 21.97 billion baht (US$675 million) hosting the 1998 Asian Games and made only 2.73 billion baht ($84 million) from them.