Speech by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin at the 28th SEA Games Closing Ceremony

Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, President of SEA Games Federation and President of the Singapore National Olympic Council, delivering his speech at the Closing Ceremony of the 28th SEA Games. Photo: SINGSOC/Action Images via Reuters

16 Jun 2015


President Tony Tan
Your Royal Highnesses
Members of the IOC and SEA Games Federation
Ladies and Gentlemen

We are reaching the end of the 28th SEA Games. On behalf of the SEA Games Federation, I would like to thank Singapore and Singaporeans for hosting an extraordinary SEA Games.

These Games will be a memorable one for many of us for years to come. It has been made possible by all the countries in our region. It was made special because of you – the athletes on the stage, the officials and volunteers behind the scenes, and all of you spectators in the stands.

Our Athletes

During the Games, we often only see what happens on the competition arenas – and that can be over as quickly as a matter of seconds, like in the 100m sprint. We also often only remember the triumph – those who made the podium, and not those who came just shy of a medal. But behind all of these lie a common trait: months and years of hard work and sacrifice. There is no athlete who is not proud of representing his or her country, and no team which does not set out to do its best. We see the same in the coaches, trainers, support staff, family and friends who have all given their all. Remember this as we cheer them on. Athletes and officials, you have all been proud ambassadors of your country.

Our athletes inspire us not just with their records and medals, but also with their spirit. We watched with admiration 11 year-old Oo Shun Lei Maw from Myanmar, when she fearlessly competed against her older counterparts in the swimming pool. We applauded with respect Singapore’s Ashley Liew, for pausing to wait for other runners when they took a wrong turn in the marathon.

Our Volunteers and Officials

These games would not have been possible without the dedication of the nearly 17,000 special individuals from Team Nila who have made us all feel welcomed. We smiled at 87-year-old Joseph Tan, who supported as a volunteer photographer. We beamed with pride at Amin bin Rosle, who did not let his autism get in the way of fulfilling his role as a stretcher-bearer and performer during the opening ceremony.

Along with the security personnel, cleaners and so many who worked round the clock to enable the Games to go on, thank you for your tireless dedication and hard work.

Our Fans

And to the fans – what would these games be without you? You cheered your heart out and stomped your feet sore. It was near hysteria at many events and we loved it! We are glad to see so many of our South East Asian friends here in Singapore and turning out in droves to support their home nations. From my Facebook, Tuck Keong shared how he saw Thai fans holding up the word ‘Friend’ along with the Thai and Indonesian flags during the football semi-finals. Christopher, who was an usher at the squash venue, saw many athletes meeting up with old fighting mates and high five-ing and hugging each other. He shared, “So nice and heart-warming. What I saw was friendship first, competition second… Great!” Melissa shared that Malaysian hockey fan supporters, even as they were celebrating their team’s win over Singapore, did not neglect to cheer and say ‘Good job, Singapore’ – holding a Singapore scarf in one hand, and the Malaysian flag in the other.

These are the people and events that made the Games. This is the spirit of ASEAN.

Our Spirit of the Games

During the Games, an earthquake struck Mount Kinabalu in Sabah. A number of lives were lost – nine came from Tanjong Katong Primary School, but it was not just Singapore who faced loss. Other countries, including our neighbours, were also affected. Thank you to many of our athletes who visited the school to pay their tributes and respect, even while competitions were still on. While we are devastated at the loss, there is also much to be inspired by the way the students and teachers lived. I’d like to end by reading from the blog put up by the teachers and students. This was their last post before the earthquake.

Their blog was entitled “It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves”.

“Though it was an exhausting hike to Pendant Hut, step by step, inch by inch, we all made it up! It wasn’t easy but they all succeeded getting up there. How did they make it up? The answer? Each other. They encouraged each other. They helped their friends by retrieving water bottles from their bags when it was hard to reach. They checked in with their friends by asking “How are you?” “Are you okay?” They were effective. They pressed on. They utilised each other to give them strength. Eventually, they reached Pendant Hut. Together.”

This is the spirit of endeavour, of never giving up. This is also the spirit of teamwork and friendship, where together we are strong. And these are the same qualities that we have witnessed and celebrated throughout the 28th SEA Games. Let us continue to keep this spirit burning in us and build closer ties in kinship as we progress together as a region.

On behalf of all of us here in Singapore, we say thank you for this truly wonderful experience. I wish you all a safe journey home and see you in Malaysia in 2017.

Thank you.