Let's back local sport

Let's back local sport

If you believe some of the figures being thrown about, then one is a deal worth anywhere between $10 million and $15 million a year, for two years.

The other agreement is worth $100,000 for three years.

Singapore Airlines' (SIA) decision to become the title sponsor of Formula 1's Grand Prix along Marina Bay makes business sense, while Air Asia's deal with our athletic star Mok Ying Ren provides a fillip for the doctor chasing a dream to become the first marathoner from the Republic to represent the country at the Olympics in Rio 2016.

The announcement by AirAsia yesterday was welcome news for the reigning South-east Asia (SEA) Games champion, and the Malaysian company's policy to support athletes from the ASEAN region must be applauded.

While SIA surely feels it can leverage on the status of the Singapore GP as a huge worldwide hit, I struggle to think how the Malaysian carrier will benefit commercially from its deal, especially when Mok (above) is hardly a big-name star who can suddenly influence a considerable number of travellers to choose to fly AirAsia.

The Malaysian carrier's move once again raises the question why so many Singapore companies and corporations continue to stay away from backing local sport, or supporting the Republic's individual athletes and teams.

I still don't see Tao Li in TV commercials, two-time Olympic medallist Feng Tianwei does not feature on giant billboards and young, talented football stars Hariss Harun and Safuwan Baharudin have yet to become frontmen for any advertising campaigns.

The Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) have worked hard to woo sponsors and Lee Bee Wah and her team have managed to secure a few backers as they look to continue to maintain the world-class stature of the sport.

But, even after claiming one silver at the 2008 Beijing Games and two bronze medals at the 2012 London Olympics, and causing the biggest upset in sport in 2010 - the women's team beat mighty China in the world championships - Singapore table tennis has yet to secure a blockbuster sponsorship deal.

In recent years, national sports associations (NSAs) have been urged by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth to come up with detailed blueprints to present to potential commercial backers, Sport Singapore (previously the Singapore Sports Council) has worked with some sports to produce a battleplan, but so many local companies continue to shun any serious marriage.

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