SEA Games: Showtime expected in S'pore

SEA Games: Showtime expected in S'pore
Apart from proven organisational skills, Singapore can also bank on the new Sports Hub facilities such as the OCBC Aquatic Centre to make a memorable splash at the SEA Games.

SINGAPORE'S reputation as an efficient and modern metropolis has re-affirmed belief among ASEAN sports officials that June's 28th SEA Games will be a rousing success.

Recent hosts were either in developing nations, such as Myanmar's Naypyidaw (2013) and Laos' Vientiane (2009), or secondary cities such as Indonesia's Palembang (2011) and Thailand's Korat (2007).

While those SEA Games were still held successfully, issues like lack of infrastructure and inadequate transportation networks cropped up occasionally.

Such problems are unlikely to occur when the biennial Games return to Singapore for the first time since 1993, noted Malaysian Olympic Committee secretary-general Sieh Kok Chi.

He said: "Singapore is such a developed and matured city, and with your brand-new Sports Hub with its retractable roof, I'm sure it will be an eye-opening experience for many of the athletes to visit and compete in."

Being a small and compact nation also means that Singapore will not encounter logistical problems such as travelling distance between the athletes' village and the competition venues.

Some previous host cities have also had to stage the events in other places owing to a lack of facilities.

For instance, the 2007 Korat Games saw sports like bowling and squash held in Bangkok while the coastal town of Chon Buri staged sailing and other water-sports events.

"It's not just the athletes who get tired but the officials as well," said Thailand's Nat Indrapana, an International Olympic Committee member since 1990.

"Having all the sports within the same city and easily accessible is a huge plus, and I have absolutely no doubt about Singapore's capability to deliver a fantastic SEA Games."

The June 5-16 Games on home soil will feature around 7,000 athletes and officials involved in 36 sports, with many of them held at the 35ha Sports Hub.

While the chase for medals will inevitably be fierce, Singapore's chef de mission Nicholas Fang is also keen for the local contingent to act as positive ambassadors for the country.

He said: "We've enjoyed the hospitality of our neighbours for many years and it's our turn to extend a warm welcome to them.

"We want everyone to feel part of the SEA Games and it all starts with the opening ceremony which sets the tone and I'm sure we will put on a great show for Singapore and South-east Asia."

The next two editions of the biennial Games will be held in Kuala Lumpur (2017) and Bandar Seri Begawan (2019).

Sieh, 76, feels that Singapore will be keen to set a high standard for others to follow.

Said the veteran administrator: "This next Games will be a good learning experience and I am confident that Singapore can be a good role model of a well-run and efficient host city."

This article was first published on Jan 16, 2015.
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