SINGAPORE - Tickets to witness the nation's top athletes going for gold at next year's Singapore SEA Games will be made available free of charge, in a push to generate greater community interest in the region's biggest sports event.
Half the tickets to the estimated 36 sports on offer will be given to members of the public, the Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee (Singsoc) announced yesterday.
However, organisers have yet to confirm how many of the tickets in each sport will be made free. Details on how to obtain these tickets, as well as to buy the remaining tickets, will be announced in June. Sales are slated to take place in November.
But it is likely that sports like football and swimming will be ticketed, given their popularity.
Access to bowling and shooting is likely to be made free, given that the smaller venues are easier to manage.
"We are focused on making the Games accessible, and yes, about half of the events can be non-ticketed," said Mr Lim Teck Yin, chairman of Singsoc's executive committee. "When Singapore last hosted the Games, the organising committee had the same idea to make it accessible, and that remains today."
About half the tickets at the 1993 SEA Games were given to the public as Singapore athletes won 50 golds, 40 silvers and 74 bronzes, still Singapore's best showing at the biennial Games.
And although those who wish to roar the Young Lions on to a gold at the new National Stadium or cheer for swimming sensation Joseph Schooling at the OCBC Aquatic Centre may have to pay, prices for these events will be kept affordable.
Mr Lim - who is also the chief executive officer of Sports Singapore - estimates that tickets would cost from $10 to about $30 during the June 5-16 Games.
Even with reduced ticketing revenue, Mr Lim is confident that the budget for the Games, which will see some 7,546 athletes and officials taking part, will not surpass the $387 million spent on hosting the 2010 Youth Olympic Games.
The budget, along with ticket prices, will be announced later this year as organisers are still in discussions with service providers and sponsors.
Mr Lim also announced a series of community initiatives to celebrate the Republic's hosting of its first Games since 1993.
Singsoc will begin launching them in June, when the one-year countdown to the Games begins.
These ideas are geared towards creating a "Village-in-the- city" concept, which transforms parts of the Central Business District into a Games festival zone. The areas of Orchard Road to Marina Bay and Kallang will be used to house athletes, as well as to host the bulk of the sports featured at the Games.
Mr Lim hopes to attract even non-sports fans with a festive atmosphere.
He said: "It's for people to come out, own the Games, support our athletes and have a good time. Don't miss it."
This article was published on April 15 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.