Singapore lawyer and arbitrator Michael Hwang has handled million-dollar cases around the world, mediating commercial disputes in Russia, the United States and China.
Away from the financial world, he is also adept at solving disputes in the sporting arena, as he has done since being appointed a council member of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (Icas) in 2006.
Yesterday, the 71-year-old was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin Medal by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
He is the first Singaporean to receive the medal, which is named after the IOC founder and recognises outstanding contribution to the Olympic movement.
IOC member Ng Ser Miang was on hand to present him with the medal at the Singapore Sports Museum.
Said Hwang, who was president of the Law Society of Singapore from 2008-2010: "It's a great honour to receive a medal associated with the Olympics, bearing the name of the founder of the modern Olympic movement. I feel honoured and humbled."
He looked back fondly at his eight years with Icas, and said that understanding athletes' sacrifices is key to resolving sporting disputes.
Said Hwang: "Tribunals have to understand that athletes spend four years of their lives preparing for an event at which they think they have some chance of making a mark.
"So one has to be conscious of how important it is, even if the decision is not measurable by money, and give the case the consideration it deserves."
Besides his role with Icas, Hwang also supervised arbitration panels at major sporting events, such as the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, and the recently-concluded Incheon Asian Games.
He now runs his own law firm, the Michael Hwang Chambers, and practises mainly as an international arbitrator.
Ng said he hopes Hwang's example will encourage more Singaporeans to work in international sporting organisations.
Ng added: "We always try to encourage Singaporeans to take up positions in international sports organisations and I definitely hope this medal will encourage more to do so."
This article was first published on Oct 14, 2014.
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