By Duncan Mackay

Hambantota risk losing the 2017 Asian Youth Games they have been warned ©WikipediaJanuary 26 - Sri Lanka's right to host the 2017 Asian Youth Games is in danger because they are so far behind in organising it, they have been warned. 

Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah has written to the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka and the country's Government making it clear that action will be taken unless they speed up preparations for the Games in Hambantota. 

"As you are aware the City of Hambantota in Sri Lanka was entrusted with the responsibility of hosting the 2017 Asian Youth Games by the OCA General Assembly in 2012 and a Host City Contract to this effect was signed between the OCA, the City of Hambantota and the NOC of Sri Lanka," Sheikh Ahmad wrote in a letter sent last week and published today in The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

"However even after one and half years of the allotment of the Games we see no progress in the conduct of the Games."

In the letter addressed to Sri Lanka's Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage and Hemasiri Fernando, President of the NOC, Sheikh Ahmad complais no-one is taking responsibility for the organisation of the Games. 

"The key personnel who will be in charge of the Games in the important functional areas like, Sports, Games Services, Medical, TV and Broadcasting, IT, Venues, Athletes Village have not been appointed; the Master Plan for the conduct of the Games has not yet finalised; the Games budget has not yet been finalised; Law for the Tax Exemption for the Games has not been issued;" Sheikh Ahmad wrote. 

"The venue for the Games has not yet been identified and no construction work has started and no plan for test events has been laid down."

Sri Lankan officials received the flag for the 2017 Asian Youth Games at the end of last year's event in Nanjing ©Chinese Olympic CommitteeSri Lankan officials received the flag for the 2017 Asian Youth Games at the end of last year's event in Nanjing ©Chinese Olympic Committee

Hambantota had decided to bid for the event after losing its campaign to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games and were chosen by the OCA in 2012 ahead of Indonesia,Qatar, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.

But now they have been warned that unless they can satisfy the concerns of the OCA then they will be stripped of the event, expected to attract more than 5,000 athletes from 45 countries competing in 12 sports.

Sheikh Ahmad has also expressed his worry that the Sri Lankan Government are breaching the Olympic Charter by interfering in the internal affairs of the NOC. 

"These important issues of autonomy of the NOC as well as the conduct of the 2017 AYG (Asian Youth Games) will be put up to the next meeting of the OCA Executive Board for a final decision and even the withdrawal of the Games from Hambantota," he writes.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
August 2013: Asian Youth Games close in a whirlwind of colour and music