Singapore will spend $324.5 million to host the SEA Games in June, but expects this investment to reap long-term benefits by ingraining sport into the country's social fabric.
It is this building of a sporting culture, more than gold medals or economic spin-offs, that the Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee (Singsoc) hopes will be the legacy of the June 5-16 multi-sport meet.
Besides keeping events affordable - entry to half of them will be free - Singsoc will also launch a series of community engagement activities in the coming months. These will include a mass rally on March 7 in Orchard Road and a 50-day countdown.
But it is looking past the 12- day Games - which will involve more than 7,000 athletes and officials in 36 sports - for a wider and deeper impact.
Hosting the SEA Games was a key platform for Vision 2030, the Government's push to make sport a way of life in Singapore, Singsoc executive committee chairman Lim Teck Yin said at a media briefing yesterday.
"One legacy of the Games is that all the people involved will continue to be involved (in sport) and continue to drive the message that we can live better through it," added Mr Lim who, as a boy, accompanied his father around Singapore at the 1973 South-east Asian Peninsular Games and fell in love with sport.
The Games will come on the back of the Government's initiatives to promote a sporting lifestyle. Last March, it pledged $1.5 billion as part of its Sports Facilities Master Plan to strengthen the sporting landscape, which aims to provide Singaporeans with a venue to play and exercise at within 10 minutes of their home by 2030.
Nominated MP Benedict Tan, who is president of the Singapore Sailing Federation and recently spoke passionately in Parliament about the worrying state of the country's sports culture, was optimistic about Singsoc's intentions.
He said: "We want to move away from the old model where elite athletes take part and everyone else watches... Winning a medal is only a part of it. The bigger part can be resilience and national pride.
"How do you translate that medal into national pride? That is where you have to get Singaporeans from all walks of life involved, even the non-active people."
While some will baulk at the Games' allocated budget - it cost $10 million to run the 1993 edition - Mr Lim, who is also chief executive of Sport Singapore, said this was the minimum amount needed in today's context, and that Singsoc would not overspend.