Next chapter will be boom or gloom

Next chapter will be boom or gloom
A local supporter smiles after purchasing from a vendor a cap bearing the flag of Myanmar outside Wunna Theikdi Sports Complex during the 27th SEA Games in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, on 17 December 2013.

NAYPYIDAW- Naypyidaw's citizens did not wholeheartedly embrace the coming-out party of the SEA Games, although there were glimmers of hope that the US$400 million (S$500 million) spent on the event has not been completely wasted.

In one street, a giant screen, roughly the size of a badminton court, towered over a row of zinc-roofed shophouses.

Nearby, a group of children kicking a plastic ball around a dusty street paused to watch the action on the screen.

No translation was necessary for a visitor - the kids cheered and pointed enthusiastically at the Myanmar athlete slugging it out in a boxing bout.

In this moment of pure joy and hero-worship, the 27th SEA Games may have created a legacy that extends beyond the Dec 11-22 showpiece.

"If our youngsters are inspired and strive to be Myanmar sporting heroes one day, our job as hosts is done," Khin Maung Lwin, joint secretary general of the Myanmar Olympic Committee, told The Straits Times.

The 86 gold medals which the host won - second only to Thailand, who finished top with 107 - should provide sufficient encouragement to the country's young people.

Still, much work remains for Naypyidaw to avoid being tagged as a forgotten city after staging a major sporting event.

As the 6,000 athletes from 11 countries depart from Myanmar's "coming-out" party, the next task is to plan the festivities for its own people.

To boost its prestige and image, the former junta state had pumped in the cash to host the multi-sports extravaganza for the first time since 1969.

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