Funeral of Pradip Subramanian who passed away after participating as a last minute replacement in the Asia Fighting Championship (AFC) fight with YouTube personality Steven Lim

Way overdue, and Singapore needs a Sports Safety Act

In October 2017, a call was made by Jose Raymond, an active policy commentator, about the need for a Sports Safety Act in Singapore. 

Jose is also a Vice-President of Singapore Swimming Association among various other appointments, and is currently a post-graduate student at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. 

His post was carried in TOC here.

Back in October 2017, he argued how a Sports Safety Act is needed in Singapore to comprehensively oversee the administration of sports due to the list of fatalities in sports. 

He also argued that “sports safety is more than just medical screening, the provision of safe facilities for sports and medical coverage” and that “it needs to cover the protection of athletes, our children and the public from potential sexual predators, and have total oversight over event sanctioning in an ever-changing industry.”

Some six months later after this was written, there has been some action. But the question is if it is even vaguely enough. 

On 2 April, a joint statement was released by government agency Sport Singapore, the Singapore National Olympic Council and the National Sports Associations (NSA), according to a story in the Straits Times. 

Three NSA presidents – Milan Kwee (taekwondo), Juliana Seow (fencing) and Halim Kader (sepak takraw) said that “harassment of any nature, especially sexual misconduct, in sport is never acceptable.” 

The statement ended by stating that “we promise to keep sport clean and safe for everyone.”

The statement did not say how they intend to keep sport safe. 

However, the Straits Times reported that SportSG officials will fly to Spain to attend a Safe Sport International Conference to learn about best practices. 

It must be stated that the issue of sexual abuse in sport is even prevalent in the United States with former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar being convicted of sexual assault of minors. 

In a post update on Tuesday, Jose Raymond again reiterated the need for a Sports Safety Act in Singapore.

He said that “while it is now somewhat heartening but way overdue, that the government agency Sport Singapore, Singapore National Olympic Council and National Sports Associations have pledged to eradicate sexual harassment in sports through education and focus group discussions, questions should be asked if this is enough and can the various agencies guarantee that this approach will deter predators from hurting our children?”

He also added that the body of evidence clearly supports the need for a Sports Safety Act as “safety in sports is a whole of nation responsibility, with multiple stakeholders involved, including the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, National Sports Associations, Singapore National Olympic Council, People’s Association, sports event promoters and even employers.”

If the government can consider legislation for deliberate online falsehoods despite the existence of various other laws like the Broadcasting Act, Sedition Act and the Prevention of Harassment Act, surely it can consider the Sports Safety Act.