Thursday, June 4, 2015

Singaporeans warming up to the Games after 22 years

Singapore SEA Games mascot Nila (second, left) with costumed entertainers welcoming visitors  to the carnival at National Stadium. - FAIHAN GHANI / The Star
Singapore SEA Games mascot Nila (second, left) with costumed entertainers welcoming visitors to the carnival at National Stadium. 

Would anyone be willing to pay S$90 (RM252) – and brave the heat – to catch the swimming competition?
Well, that’s what Singaporeans will have to cough up if they want to watch the SEA Games swimming competition, which begins at the OCBC Aquatics Centre on Friday.
A check on the SEA Games website showed that tickets for swimming and wushu as well as the opening and closing ceremonies have all been sold out!
Compare this to the fact that tickets for the swimming finals at the World Aquatics Championships in Kazan next month are going for €25 (RM104).
I guess this is what happens when the hosts have athletes capable of scooping half of the 38 golds at stake in swimming.
The rise of young stars like Incheon Asian Games butterfly champion Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen have raised the profile of the sport here as the nation host the Games again after 22 years.
Singapore have never had a shortage of stars in the pool when it comes to the SEA Games. The likes of Patricia Chan, Ang Peng Siong, David Lim and Joscelin Yeo come to mind quite easily.
The quartet can easily account for 100 gold medals for Singapore in their heydays. It's always an adrenaline rush covering the Games in such atmosphere and I’m sure their swimmers are looking forward to delivering in their own backyard.
Judging by the response shown in some of the early events, even the people of Singapore are embracing the Games.
The synchronised swimming competition saw long queues of people trying to get into the venue.
The organisers even switched to neon lightings for the fencing competition to create a disco-like ambience.
And there are also emcees who work up the crowd to drum up support by cheering during breaks.
There’s also an app to watch the Games live.
And it’s these sort of things that Malaysian sports officials should learn from.
Our country is the next host for the SEA Games in 2017 and there are lots of things our officials can learn and apply ... if not make it work better.
Come on, we are not that bad. We are known for our friendliness. It's time we add professionalism and efficiency to the list. 

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