By Kannan Raj
On Sunday (14 August) morning, CEO of Sport Singapore (SportSG) Lim Teck Yin made an incredible announcement which has now left TOC to conclude that Singapore’s national sports agency meant to promote sports is plain insensitive and downright demoralising to our other athletes currently in Rio for the Olympics.
SportSG comes under the ambit of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) under the current Minister Grace Fu, who is currently in Rio.
At the event, Lim, a former army general announced that SportSG will be organising an open top bus parade and celebration for Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling who is returning to Singapore early Monday morning after striking gold in the 100m butterfly event in an Olympic record time of 50.39s.
While no time frame was given for the parade, it was said that it will be early this week.
Why is this insensitive?
At this point, there are still other Singaporean athletes like the table tennis players, track and field athletes and the sailors who are in Rio participating in the Games. And what signals is the Singapore government through its sports agency sending these athletes who are still in Rio? That they are not good enough to win gold?
Or anything for that matter?
Also, aren’t such parades only held at the end of the games or event when the entire contingent is back together? And with the contingent still in Rio, this also means that the Chef de Mission Low Teo Ping will not be around to lead the parade celebrations. One can only wonder what is running through the minds of MCCY and SportSG in this respect.
A former national athlete who spoke to TOC said: “This is as distasteful as it can get. If I was in Rio today representing Singapore, I would be so disgusted. What does this mean for the other athletes who are still there? That they are useless? Since when are open top parades held just for one athlete, and before the end of the event proper? This does not mean that Joseph doesn’t deserve this. It’s the signals it sends to other athletes in Rio. If Joseph was still in Rio and some other athlete was getting such treatment in Singapore while he was still competing, I’m sure he will feel totally flabbergasted. Joseph should put his foot down and reject this parade, for the sake of his comrades who are still fighting in Rio.”
Another huge question mark over this parade is will SportSG organise yet another one when the other athletes are back?
So SportSG is spending money on an open top parade just for one athlete? Is this coming out of Lim’s own pocket or is this through the taxpayers’ funds?
In their exuberance to be in the limelight on the pretext of glorifying Singapore’s latest sports hero, MCCY and SportSG really need to do lots of soul searching.