Singapore ready to reap benefits after nabbing IOC's big show
For three minutes on Wednesday, tiny Singapore will be the centre of attraction on the world stage. As an estimated one billion viewers watch on television the voting for the city to host the 2012 Olympics, they will also see Singapore showcase its attractions in a video presentation to be made at the 117th IOC Session.
'Even money can't buy this opportunity that we have been given,' smiles Annabel Pennefather, vice-president of the Singapore Olympic Committee and a member of the steering committee which is behind the running and organisation of the IOC visit to the Lion City.
Now why didn't Hong Kong - Asia's World City - think of hosting this IOC session?
It is a golden opportunity. It's not every day the Olympic bandwagon rolls into town. Around 3,500 delegates, including IOC members, are in town. The accredited media corps numbers more than 1,500 journalists from television, radio and newspapers, representing 311 media organisations around the world.
All these numbers translate into tourism dollars. According to Pennefather, when Singapore applied to host the IOC Session back in 2000, there was a guarantee that 10,000 rooms would be available.
'All the rooms are full. We have had people asking us for rooms, especially close to the Raffles area but all the hotels here are fully booked,' says Pennefather, Singapore's Woman of the Year in 2004.
It is conservatively estimated that the week-long IOC session will bring in S$40 million ($183.5 million) into the economy. And the long-term aspects look more promising, simply because of those three minutes on video.
'For the first time the IOC is allowing the host city to show a brief video presentation. The IOC session will begin with a two-minute presentation by us and end with a one-minute presentation. Three minutes that will go all around the world. [It's] publicity which money cannot buy,' says Pennefather, who has Hong Kong connections. She is married to former local resident Harbans Dillon, whose brother is Billy Dillon, vice-president of the Hong Kong Hockey Association.
Singapore has also got a shot in the arm from the fact that this session carries huge importance. Not only will the IOC members vote on the host city for 2012, but will also approve the future programme. All 28 summer sports will have their games futures voted on and could be dropped from the programme. Therefore there is a great deal of interest, and inevitably the world's media have gathered.
When Singapore's Olympic Committee decided to go for it, they did not know which cities would be in the running in the home stretch. To have five iconic cities like London, Paris, New York, Moscow and Madrid in the final mix has given the race an especially high profile.
'The race has always been high profile. But this time it is even bigger simply because all five cities are world famous. This has resulted in a lot of high-profile people coming to Singapore which raises the profile even more,' says Pennefather.
From David and Victoria Beckham to Tony Blair and Hillary Clinton, they have all gathered here. Muhammad Ali will espouse New York's cause while French President Jacques Chirac will make a brief stopover en route to the G8 meeting in Scotland.
The stars will just raise Singapore's stature even higher. It is a shame that they will be shopping down Orchard Road and not Nathan Road. It is a shame that all the parties will be happening down Clark and Boat Quay and not in Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo.
While Hong Kong slept, Singapore pulled off the publicity coup of the decade.