The poor quality of the host’s athletes and coaching network is heightened by the degraded state of the sporting infrastructure they must use — national stadiums are poorly maintained, while public swimming pools are unhygienic and overcrowded.
Vietnam has a number of stadiums left from its hosting of the 2003 Southeast Asian Games, which is a minnow compared with the Asian Games, but they have not been kept up to international standards.
The government plans to use about 500 hectares on the outskirts of Hanoi to build a so-called “Center for the Asian Games” and an athletes’ village, but across the city the same refrain is common among sports fans and experts — with the country in major economic difficulties, organizing a regional sporting event amounts to over-reaching.
Even Nguyen Hong Minh, a retired top sporting official, said the Asian Games would be an “enormous challenge” for Vietnam, especially as its economy is currently in its worst state for decades.
“Between now and 2019 there is an awful lot to do,” he said.