Community event for all at opening of Sports Hub

Aerial view of the Sports Hub, which will be completed in April 2014

The public will be among the first to run, play and swim at the Sports Hub's facilities when it is fully completed in June.

The Community Sports Festival will be held alongside three international events to mark the opening of the facilities, giving the public their first chance to use the $1.33 billion hub.

The three events are the South-east Asia Swimming Championships (June 14-26) at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, the World University Floorball Championships (June 18-22) at the OCBC Arena, and the rugby World Club 10s (June 21-22) at the National Stadium.

The one-year countdown to the SEA Games, which Singapore is hosting from June 5-16 next year, will also take place at the same time.

These were unveiled on Thursday, alongside a calendar of 13 sporting and 11 entertainment events that will take place at the 35ha hub this year.

Said Singapore Sports Council chief executive Lim Teck Yin: "It is very important that before anything else happens, we should have a large sporting event for the community to come in, play and experience the facilities first-hand."

Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, in a Facebook post on Thursday, said it was important that a community event be among the Sports Hub's first order of business.

He wrote: "I've specifically asked for this to be the first event at the Sports Hub, so that we can launch (it) on the right footing - as a community space and public venue for all Singaporeans to enjoy."

Said Ms Alicia Ng, a 35-year-old teacher with two children: "I'm excited about the fact that there'll be many different sports facilities in one venue. This will give everyone in my family adequate opportunities to do what they enjoy."

Specific dates for the festival will be fixed after the availability of the facilities is confirmed. But both sports and music fans can start clearing their calendars. Among the events that have been pencilled in are a clash between Singapore and Malaysia on Aug 8, the first football match at the National Stadium, and the Women's Tennis Association Championships from Oct 17-26.

Taiwanese megastar Jay Chou will be the first music act at the National Stadium on Nov 8. Sports Hub chief executive Philippe Collin Delavaud promised more events will be announced soon.

He said: "We are inking, and will ink a lot more events in the weeks and months to come."

While most of the hub is on track for completion in April, work on the stadium's retractable roof and movable seating means the 55,000-seater is slated to be ready only around June - a target the Government is keeping its eye on.

Said Mr Wong: "The private consortium in charge of the project has promised us that the stadium will be completed in time for the events in June. We will hold them accountable, and make sure they complete the project safely and on time."

maychen@sph.com.sg

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