SINGAPORE - In two weeks, Singapore will be sending its largest contingent to an Olympics since independence. The 25 athletes competing in seven sports could even win a record number of medals, if the women's table tennis players and swimmer Joseph Schooling deliver.
But as things stand, Singaporeans will not be able to join in the moment should Schooling or anyone else make the Olympic podium.
The Straits Times understands that Mediacorp and broadcast rights holder Dentsu have inked a deal that includes only delayed telecasts of the sporting action.
Mediacorp will air at least 10 hours of delayed action daily for the duration of the Aug 5-21 Games. Only the opening and closing ceremonies will be shown live. The agreement also includes the Olympics news channel and daily highlights, on top of content produced by Mediacorp's crew in Brazil.
For sporting action, Mediacorp can only air an event after the entire session has concluded. For instance, a fan wanting to watch the first final on Day One of swimming (the men's 400m individual medley) will have to wait for the entire session to end some two hours later to catch it on television.
The Olympics' free-to-air TV rights in Asia were previously held by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), a non-profit association of broadcasting organisations, of which Mediacorp is a member. But this will be the first Games sold to territories via a middleman.
Dentsu was awarded the 2016 Olympics' broadcast rights in Singapore and 16 other Asian territories after an IOC tender in 2013. It is understood Singapore is the only one of the 17 not to secure live broadcast rights to the action.
Spiralling broadcast rights fees are believed to be a major stumbling block in negotiations. In 2012, Mediacorp paid around $2.5 million for the free-to-air fees. This excludes technical costs, which could exceed $1.5 million.
Swimming fan Danny Chew, 40, who was looking forward to watching Schooling race live said: "Most Singaporeans will only be able to catch the Olympics on television, so it's sad that we might not be able to witness a potentially historic moment live.
"Maybe the government will step in, but I hope the parties involved can work something out."
This article was first published on July 22, 2016.
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