PHOTO: Empty seats aplenty at the 2017 HSBC Singapore Sevens

52,000 expected to watch rugby event? But only 11,000 tickets have been sold

In a Straits Times report on 25 April, the Executive Chairman of Rugby Singapore David Lim, organisers of the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens have said that they are expecting 52,000 people to turn up to the National Stadium to watch the rugby event this weekend and that spectator numbers are “pleasing”.

However, The Online Citizen can reveal that of these 52,000 people, only 11,000 people have paid for tickets for the two-day event, which show a lack of appetite for the event in Singapore.

In a document which was seen by TOC, a breakdown of ticket sales as of 21 April, only 23,795 tickets would have been given out by event day.

So why then, did David Lim state that 52,000 people are expected at the event, as reported by Straits Times?

The HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens, held over a weekend at the National Stadium, has seen poor attendances over the last two years.

Singapore is now bidding to continue to host the event for a further four years after the current four-year tenure runs out in 2019. The National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub has been the venue for the event since 2016.

For an event which apparently gets between $750,000 to $1 million in funding from the Government, there are some serious questions to be asked about the returns of the event being staged in Singapore.

In a report on 4 March in TODAY, David Lim said that he was “upbeat and confident” and “we’ve demonstrated our ability in the first two years” and also pointed to the support of Government agencies like Sport Singapore and Singapore Tourism Board.

There are various questions over the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens and its continued stay in Singapore.

Why is the Government still pumping in money into this event when it is obvious that there isn’t any public appetite for the Sevens in Singapore?

Also, it is important to know who is benefitting from the event since there doesn’t seem to be any interest from the public in terms of ticket sales.

In trying to keep the event in Singapore, have the various parties including the Government sought feedback over the event over its continued presence in Singapore?

Is there an understanding over why tickets sales are poor?

And finally, shouldn’t Rugby Singapore open their books and make them public, and show how much of the monies raised from the Sevens over the last few years actually gone towards developing rugby in Singapore?

Also, it is rather odd that Singapore Sport Institute chief Toh Boon Yi from government agency Sport Singapore declined to reveal the Government’s “significant amount” of investment in the Sevens, which then brings about questions of transparency and accountability of public funds.