The Singapore SEA Games in June next year will have a true city feel to it, with athletes not only competing largely in venues located in the heart of the city, but also staying in or close to the city centre.
Organisers of the 2015 biennial Games announced yesterday that 20 hotels in the central area will provide accommodation for athletes, officials and delegates during the region's biggest sporting event.
Based on the concept of a "Celebration in the City", the likes of Marina Bay Sands and Swissotel The Stamford were picked for their close proximity to the Singapore Sports Hub in Kallang and areas where the majority of the sports competitions and fringe events will be held.
"The 28th SEA Games will celebrate and showcase sport against the backdrop of Singapore's stunning city setting," said Mr Lim Teck Yin, chairman of the Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee's (Singsoc) executive committee.
"We want our Games athletes and officials to enjoy our city's unique flavours, sights and sounds, even as they focus on competing at their best."
The June 5-16 Games next year represents the Republic's first hosting of the biennial showpiece since 1993.
Then, athletes and officials were housed in hotels all across the island.
This time round, the athletes will be kept to the central area, providing quick access to the Sports Hub, where events for 15 of the estimated 36 sports will be held, with a further five in the Marina area.
Olympic Council of Malaysia secretary general Sieh Kok Chi backed the idea of a "village in the city" at the Singapore SEA Games, which is expected to draw some 9,000 athletes and officials.
He said: "It's a bustling city-state so to have visiting athletes in a central location encourages them to explore the culture and mingle with others instead of being cooped up in some distant location."
As athletes will be housed by their respective sports, competitors from the same country will stay in different hotels. Room allocation details will be announced at a later date.
Additional security will be provided at all 20 hotels, which also include Fairmont Singapore and the Hard Rock Hotel at Resorts World Sentosa.
To ensure that housing athletes and officials in hotels would be cost-effective, Singsoc said in a statement that it had carefully evaluated the alternative of having a centralised athlete village in university hostels.
The study, it added, showed that the costs would be comparable because of the need to install additional arrangements for the Games, such as security fencing and having to restore conditions on return.
At the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, the Nanyang Technological University campus off Jalan Bahar served as accommodation for athletes.
Singsoc noted that the hotels which participated in the tender had also acknowledged "their role in this national effort" and had "offered attractive packages".
For Thai National Olympic Committee vice-president Charoen Wattanasin, staying close to competition venues is the most important consideration.
He said: "That means our athletes will deal with less travelling and jams, and concentrate on what they know best - providing entertainment to the fans."
This article was published on April 17 in The Straits Times.
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