Game plan if haze disrupts SEA Games

Game plan if haze disrupts SEA Games
A jogger runs along the sky bridge amidst a hazy skyline of Singapore at Pinnacle @Duxton at 6pm on 17 June 2013.

In case the haze returns next year when Singapore hosts the SEA Games, organisers are making contingency plans to build in buffers in the competition schedule to postpone some events or move them indoors.

The Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee is developing a set of criteria to guide these decisions at different air quality levels, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong in Parliament yesterday.

This framework will refer to the air quality reports and public health advisories issued by the National Environment Agency, and will be overseen by sports representatives and experts in fields such as medical and security, he said.

"Based on this framework, we will postpone events or move them indoors, as and when the need arises," said Mr Wong.

The marathon, for example, is scheduled to take place early on in the programme but it can be postponed till later in the Games if necessary.

In preparing for the Games, arrangements will also be made for Singapore's athletes to train indoors where possible if the haze worsens.

Mr Wong was responding to questions from Nominated MP Nicholas Fang, who is joint chef-de-mission of the Games with Dr Tan Eng Liang, on contingency plans to minimise the impact of the haze on the Games.

The SEA Games will take place from June 5 to 16 next year, putting it during the annual dry spell between June and October, when haze has typically been an issue. The Government has already warned of a return of the haze in the coming months.

While contingency plans will be made, there are limitations, said Mr Wong.

Not all sports can be played indoors and there are limits to how much the competition schedule can be adjusted, he said.

"So if the bad air quality persists, then we may have no choice but to shorten or cancel certain events," he said.

But he assured the House that postponements or cancellations would not "incur significant costs" for the hosts.

This is because there are provisions made in the contracts so that cancellations can be made in these situations.

"I think we are able to manage the cost implications from the haze," he said.

This article was first published on July 10, 2014.
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