SINGAPORE - National swimmer Quah Zheng Wen has been granted a deferment for his National Service (NS) obligations, until the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
In a statement on Thursday (Sept 22), the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said that the Armed Forces Council (AFC) had approved Mr Quah's application of extended deferment, which they had received this month.
This is Mr Quah's second NS deferment. The 19-year-old was originally due to enlist in July last year, but was granted a deferment to train and compete at this year's Rio Olympics.
In Rio, he qualified for the semifinals of both the 100m and 200m butterfly, and also competed in the 100m backstroke event.
Fellow national swimmer and Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling was also granted a deferment until the 2020 Tokyo games.
"Deferment may be granted to exceptional cases of individual sportsmen who are assessed to be potential medal winners at international competitions like the Olympic Games," Mindef explained in its statement.
It added that each case will be assessed individually in consultation with the Ministry of Community, Culture and Youth.
In a Facebook post, Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen described both Quah and Schooling as "exceptional sportsmen" who met all the existing criteria for deferment. He added that Singapore now had two medal prospects in the Olympics for the first time.
"I spoke to Zheng Wen and his father. I thanked them for their commitment to excellence, the many hours of training Zheng Wen has put in and many more needed for the next four years, for him to win in Tokyo 2020. I wished Zheng Wen the very best in his training and his ambition to win glory for Singapore," he wrote.
The issue of male athletes being given deferments from their NS obligations was raised in Parliament last week by Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah, who called for a clearer policy.