SINGAPORE - DBS Bank has thrown its weight behind national Paralympic athletes by becoming sponsors in the Athletes Achievement Awards (AAA).
Their involvement in the award scheme, which is managed by the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC), was announced at this year's AAA & Appreciation Ceremony on Saturday (Oct 16) at the One Farrer Hotel.
It comes on the back of a spirited public debate about the disparity in cash incentives, with swimmer Yip Pin Xiu earning a $200,000 reward for each of the two gold medals she won at the Tokyo Paralympics, a fifth of the payout for an Olympic gold.
DBS will match the AAA scheme supported by primary sponsor, Tote Board, and the initial commitment will span two Paralympic Games cycles, until the 2024 Paralympic Games Paris.
This meant Yip, 29, who won the women's S2 50m and 100m backstroke in Tokyo, received $800,000 at Saturday's ceremony.
As is under the AAA scheme, 20 per cent of the total cash award will go to the Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) and SNPC to help fund future training & development, as well as support Singapore's participation at Para Games.
Yip said: "Representing Singapore at the highest level is a privilege and to have won two gold medals at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games is testament to the hard work that the team and I have put in.
"I am glad that Singapore is taking active steps towards achieving parity for the cash quantum and this is a step in the right direction. I have set my eyes on the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games and will continue to train hard."
DBS Singapore group executive and country head Shee Tse Koon said they "readily agreed" to come on board as sponsors for the programme when approached by the SNPC.
"All of us can do our part to create a more inclusive Singapore, he said.
"As a Singapore brand, we also believe in supporting and nurturing homegrown talent. In addition, Singapore's para athletes exemplify a strong sense of purpose, passion and excellence - values that all of us in Team DBS share.
"It is our privilege to come alongside them in their journey, and to celebrate their hard-fought and well-deserved achievements."
At the ceremony on Saturday, SNPC also honoured all Team Singapore athletes who competed in Tokyo.
The Republic sent 10 athletes, who participated in 18 events across six sports and achieved seven personal bests, five new national records and two season bests. In total, Singapore achieved 13 top 10 finishes.
SNPC president Teo-Koh Sock Miang said: "We welcome DBS Bank and we thank them for rising to the occasion and joining us on our journey ahead.
"We are excited about our athletes' continued success on the international stage. The SNPC is thankful to the Tote Board, DBS Bank and many other stakeholders as partners in sport.
"The accomplishments of our Team Singapore athletes at the Tokyo Paralympic Games have cheered and inspired Singaporeans from all walks of life
"I thank SNPC and their corporate sponsors for supporting our Paralympians wholeheartedly in their sporting journey and recognising their achievements unequivocally."
After her wins in Tokyo, Yip and other members of the para-sports fraternity had called for parity in the amounts of cash incentives for medallists at the Paralympics.
Yip Pin Xiu celebrates after winning gold in the women's 50m backstroke S2 swimming event during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo on Sept 2, 2021. PHOTO: AFP
This was echoed by former diplomat Tommy Koh in an opinion piece published in The Straits Times.
The topic also evoked a strong response from Singaporeans who shared their views on the ST Forum page and on social media, with some opposing the call for equal cash rewards on the basis of the narrower field of competition.
Some MPs had also inquired about this disparity in and on Oct 5, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said in Parliament that the SNPC were in discussions with potential sponsors on increasing the cash rewards within the AAA framework.
Mr Tong also announced then that Yip would become the inaugural recipient of the President's Award for Inspiring Achievement.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.