Velodrome will not be ready for Sukma 2024 as construction takes 2-3 years

Abdul Karim (seated, second left) fielding questions from the media at the DUN Complex on May 23, 2023.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, May 23: The proposed velodrome facility, a dedicated arena for track cycling, will not be ready when Sarawak hosts Sukma 2024 as the construction will take two to three years to complete.

Minister of Youth, Sports and Entrepreneur Development Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said there is no way for Sarawak to get the velodrome up and ready for track cycling events in one year’s time.

“But we are not going to drop (other) cycling (events) comprising road race, mountain biking, downhill and BMX. These races will still be there but probably we might include sprint races, which is not going to be done in a velodrome, instead it could be done at Jalan FAC,” he told a press conference at the Media Room of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Complex in Petra Jaya here today.

On whether certain land issues have hindered the progress of the velodrome construction, Abdul Karim explained there were some technical challenges to be addressed as the land approved for the project was once offered to the Royal Malaysia Police to set up their new headquarters, with the condition that they give up its present headquarters at Jalan Badruddin.

“As they are not willing to give up Badruddin, they have no right to take the land. We are facing quite a lot of this (kind of) issues, not only in this case but many other places.

“The Federal government when offered a piece of land would quickly register it under the Federal Land Commissioner. But sometimes the land is not developed for 20 to 30 years,” he said, adding that this was one of the matters negotiated under Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) whereby the Sarawak government will take back the land if it was not developed after a certain period of time.

Abdul Karim gave assurance that the velodrome project will proceed as Sarawak is eyeing to host another international sporting event, which he refused to reveal at this moment.

On Sarawak’s preparation for Sukma, Abdul Karim pointed out that many facilities under local councils, Sarawak Sports Corporation and schools that have been identified throughout Sarawak will need to be upgraded.

“Secondly, efforts will also be put into enhancing the performance of athletes to make sure they reach the mark.

“Abang Jo (Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg) has given his assurance that we need not worry about the funding for upgrading facilities and our athletes. We are getting very strong support from the Sarawak government which inspires the team to do their best,” he said.

On the funding support for the organisation of Sukma, which cost RM600 million when it was held in Kuala Lumpur before, Abdul Karim shared that the maximum the Federal government would give is only RM40 million.

“We are still compiling what facilities needed to be upgraded, apart from training. But I don’t think it will reach RM600 million. But to us money is not the issue. We want to be the host it as we anticipate the returns and economic spin off will be tremendous,” he added. — DayakDaily