IN what will be the biggest sporting event that Malaysia has hosted, the XVI Commonwealth Games will be staged in Kuala Lumpur from September 10-20, 1998. Aside from being the first time the event has been held in Asia, there is much speculation that this could be the greatest Games. It will be the first to include team sports. Previously the Games were the domain of individual sports but, with the inclusion of rugby, cricket and field hockey, the strength of the Commonwealth countries in these sports promises the potential of a mini World Cup. Although details of the format these sports will play at the Games has yet to be announced, speculation is that it will be rugby sevens and cricket sixes with a full squad for field hockey. Regardless of the format, construction of the many venues to be used at the Games is underway. 'The progress is going very well,' said Callie Chee, a communication executive for the Games. 'Everything is up to date and we have quite a few sponsors and official licensees so the awareness campaign is going on.' Using a combination of existing buildings and new venues, the showpiece for the Games will be the National Sports Complex Bukit Jalil. Located 12 kilometres south of Kuala Lumpur, the National Sports Complex includes a new 100,000-seat stadium. That venue will be the scene for the opening and closing ceremonies as well as the athletic events. As part of a large sports complex that will be left behind as a legacy of the Games, the complex includes a 15,000-seat gymnastic stadium, a 5,000-seat swimming pool venue, a 1,000-seat net-ball stadium, the Maba Stadium for boxing, lawn bowl greens and hockey pitches. The venue will be surrounded by condominiums to be used as the athletes' village and facilities for doping control. Following the Games, the condominiums will be sold to the public. Existing facilities will be used for the cricket grounds at Klang Valley, the Kuala Lumpur Velodrome for cycling, Stadium Merdeka for rugby, the National Shooting Range at Subang and the Universiti Kebangsaan for weight-lifting. With 68 nations in the Commonwealth Games Federation, the Games organisers are expecting a full turn-out in 1998 and thus surpass the 62 nations that attended the 1994 Victoria Games in Canada. Ms Chee said the organisers had yet to release a budget for the Games. However, the main focus was in publicising the event to the Malay population. 'We are having an 18-kilometre Commonwealth Games village relay run on September 10, the start of the three-year countdown to the Games,' she said. 'This is to create awareness about the Games among the public.' With the absence of such powerhouses as Indonesia and China, the Malays will likely dominate at the Games in badminton. In completely dominating the Victoria Games with two gold, two silver and two bronze medals, all eyes at the 1998 Games will be on Raj Sidek. After successfully defending his Commonwealth single's crown at Victoria, the Malaysian hero and former world-ranked No 1 hinted at retirement. But by 1998 Sidek will only be 30 years old. It is likely that he will compete for his third title. Traditionally weak in women's badminton, Malaysia might see a change by 1998 with Zamalia Sidek who gained valuable experience in Victoria. She and her mixed-doubles partner, Kim Her Tan, narrowly lost in the deciding game to All-England Champions Nick Ponting and Joanne Wright. After strong performances by the women's double pairing of Lee Wai Leng and Tan Lee Wai in knocking off a Hong Kong pairing in the Victoria semi-finals, the veteran pair should also be in medal contention.