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Darker motive of UK sports academy

While I support the establishment of a sports academy in a temperate country for temperate sports, I'm puzzled about the choice of UK for the location of the proposed academy . The UK is one of the most expensive places in terms of cost of property and cost of living to carry out such an undertaking.

Surely there are more cost-competitive countries that can deliver equal, if not better, outcomes. Australia and South Africa come to mind. Both are English-speaking.

The Australians have got more world-class sportspersons per capita than Britain and have a lower cost base than the UK. The Melbourne and Adelaide winters can be as cold, wet and windy as the UK's, or even Scotland's in the case of Tasmania.

The Australians regularly churn out world records in swimming, cycling and athletics. They have world-class hockey, netball, sailing and rugby teams. Even their 'Socceroos' recently made it to the World Cup finals and nearly knocked out the eventual winners, Italy, in the last 16 round. Given a large Asian immigrant population, our athletes will not be deprived of Asian food and cultural contacts during their training stints there.

If you want even a colder and slightly cheaper place, New Zealand also produces more world class athletes per capita than the UK.

South Africa regularly produces some of the top athletes in swimming and athletics, not to mention rugby. A Johannesburg winter can go down to freezing temperatures. It is in the same time zone as continental Europe where most of the summer athletics meets take place. Property and cost of living is nowhere as high as in the UK. And there is even a local Malay community there.

So what gives? Was there a cost-benefit study done on the options available around the world. Was this ever disclosed to the public? After all, it's the taxpayers money that is going to fund this expensive project. It is a an issue of public interest.

Cynics (myself included) believe our local politicians, particularly those involved in sports administration, have a darker motive: They probably fancy the opportunity to holiday, shop and visit their children studying in the UK during the 'official' frequent trips there to support our athletes and provide expensive photo ops for the Malaysian media so they can be 'seen' to be doing their bit for Malaysian sports.

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