Singapore To Bid For 2015 Sea Games
Athletes, officials and other guests take a group picture with DPM Teo and Mr Chan at *Scape yesterday after the Team Singapore flag presentation ceremony for this month’s SEA Games in Palembang. — ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
IT IS official. Singapore will launch a bid to host the 28th SEA Games in 2015 – the Republic’s first major multi-sport event since last year’s Youth Olympic Games.
If Singapore gets the nod, the biennial games, which involve all 11 South-east Asian nations, will coincide with the country’s 50th year of independence. It also means that the $1.33 billion Sports Hub at Kallang will get to mark its inauguration in style.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean’s announcement yesterday was greeted with loud applause by hundreds of local athletes and officials at *Scape in Orchard.
‘The SEA Games exemplify how sports can unite a nation,’ said Mr Teo, who is also president of the Singapore National Olympic Council. ‘Over the years, the memories and moments of the SEA Games have brought us together to cheer and celebrate as a nation.’
He was speaking at the Team Singapore flag presentation ceremony for this month’s SEA Games in Palembang.
The Government’s blessing for the bid comes 18 years after Singapore last hosted the games, when it won 50 gold medals on home soil. It also staged the event in 1973 and 1983.
The Republic was due to organise the 2007 edition, but declined because the Sports Hub at Kallang could not be ready in time. Repeated construction delays meant that Singapore could not fulfil its subsequent promise to host the 2013 games.
Said Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing: ‘If everything goes well, we will complete the Sports Hub by 2014. That will give us some time to run in the operations, so that everything will be ready by 2015.’
The success of Singapore’s bid now lies with the SEA Games Federation, which will make a decision at its meeting in Jakarta later this month. It is understood that at least one other Asean nation could emerge as a rival to host the 2015 games.
By Jonathan Wong
IT ALL began for James Wong at the 1993 SEA Games in Singapore. It was there at the old National Stadium where he claimed the first of his nine gold medals.
But while the 2015 Games, which Singapore is bidding for, may be too far down the road for him – he will be 46 then – the veteran discus thrower knows how much competing at home means.
‘I would love to end my career at home but I don’t think I can push on until then,’ said Wong, who will be taking part in this year’s edition of the Games starting next week. ‘But the home advantage definitely plays an important role. After all, no where else feels more comfortable.
‘Look at the Youth Olympic Games we hosted last year. A lot of people did not think we had any chance but we still won a few medals. Being at home is spectacular. It gives athletes more confidence.’
Yesterday’s announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean that the Government has given its backing to the Singapore National Olympic Council’s bid to host the 2015 edition has quickly whetted the appetites of the younger local athletes.
Said 17-year-old water polo player Angeline Teo, who will be making her Games debut in Indonesia next week: ‘It makes me more motivated to keep training so that I can compete in front of my family and friends.’
A total of 414 athletes and 206 officials will be sent to compete in 33 of the 42 sports on offer in Jakarta and Palembang from Nov 11 to 22.
But if the SEA Games comes to Singapore, the country can send more participants, increasing the chances for medals, said Singapore Swimming Association vice-president Oon Jin Gee.
He said: ‘Having it here will mean there’s no travelling involved and we can potentially send two swimmers, assuming they qualify on merit, for every event.’
Added Wong, who is also the head of sports performance at the Singapore Athletic Association, which is sending 27 athletes to the SEA Games: ‘We will definitely aim to field an even bigger squad of about 50 to 60 athletes.’
And the double boost of home advantage and numbers should mean more medals. The Republic finished fourth with a record 50 golds the last time Singapore played hosts in 1993.
If it wins the bid for the 2015 Games, Singapore will be given some leeway in deciding which sports to stage, giving it yet another advantage.
Host nations have been known in the past to favour events they are traditionally strong in to inflate their medal haul.
In the 2003 Hanoi Games, Vietnam introduced shuttlecock and promptly swept all seven golds while in this year’s edition, Indonesia have scrapped the team events for table tennis (which Singapore have dominated) and reduced the number of shooting events from 34 in 2009 (when Indonesia won one silver) to just 14.
But Singapore Sailing Federation’s chief executive Tan Wearn Haw cautioned against taking it too far.
‘We could choose to race in boat classes that our rivals are unfamiliar with and win medals, but that would not help us in the long term,’ he said.