Singapore plans ‘fiesta’ for 2015 SEA Games as it sets June date

Lim Teck Yin, chairman of the SEA Games organising committee's exco. (Yahoo Photo)Lim Teck Yin, chairman of the SEA Games organising committee's exco. (Yahoo Photo)

Singapore will bring forward its hosting of the 2015 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to earlier within the year to get good participation from citizens.

The Singapore Southeast Asian Games Organising Committee (SINGSOC) on Wednesday announced the biennial event would be held from 5 to 16 June instead of November or December as has been tradition.

Speaking at a press conference, SINGSOC executive committee chairman Lim Teck Yin also confirmed plans to transform the 28th edition of the regional multi-sports contest into a “12-day fiesta” with the key objective of involving as many Singaporeans as possible.

The odd timing of the event, which was last hosted by Singapore in 1993, is to avoid conflict with “other major activities” in Singapore, Lim said.

He cited the Muslim fasting period of Ramadan starting 18 June; National Day Parade in August; Formula One race in September; Women’s Tennis Association Championships in October plus “traditional monsoons” and local school examinations come year-end.

Holding the games in June – during the school holidays – would give students and families the opportunity to attend, added Lim, who is also the CEO of the Singapore Sports Council (SSC).

Sports buzz

While the event will almost certainly see all 11 Southeast Asian nations participating, the exact number and type of sports remains to be finalised.

Lim, however, confirmed the committee is considering over 30 sports – the largest number ever hosted by Singapore in SEA Games history.

Not all will be Olympic-recognised, said Lim, given Singapore’s lack of facilities such as a track cycling velodrome.

On the other hand, due consideration will be given to non-Olympic sports popular in the region, such as pétanque and dragon-boat racing. Netball and floorball were also described as examples of “non-traditional” sports that SINGSOC will look at, owing to their high interest at local school level.

The Singapore Sports Hub, due for completion in the first quarter of 2014. (2013 Sports Hub Pte. Ltd Photo)The Singapore Sports Hub, due for completion in the first quarter of 2014. (2013 Sports Hub Pte. Ltd Photo)

Staking out the action

The focal venue and “crown jewel” of the SEA Games, as described by Lim, will be none other than the highly-anticipated Singapore Sports Hub, due for completion early next year.

Additionally, plans are underway to “touch up” and utilise sports and recreation centres around Singapore – such as Bishan for gymnastics and Toa Payoh for table tennis.

Lim confirmed that no new venues would be built.

He also addressed the danger of repeating the infamous budget blowout of the 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG), though Lim declined to reveal the amount for the SEA Games.

“YOG was a new property with many unknowns. You do things and you adjust at the last minute, which drives cost up,” he said. “But we’re making use of the YOG experience to ensure we provide and find an optimal level for service delivery.”

“We’ve benchmarked (the 2015 SEA Games)… to be cost effective,” concluded Lim.

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