Games Village at MBS ready to host region's best para-athletes
Resort does its part to cater to APG athletes
With a 2,561-room hotel, a 7,432-square-metre mall and one of only two casinos in Singapore among its many attractions, Marina Bay Sands (MBS) is usually seen as one of the country's most prestigious properties.
Over the next fortnight, however, it will take on another dimension as the Games Village for the 8th Asean Para Games (APG) taking place in Singapore from Dec 3-9.
Yesterday, members of the media were invited to see how MBS has been transformed and, while finishing touches were still being put in place, it already appears to be all set for the start of the Games on Thursday.
About 3,000 athletes and officials will be housed in 1,300 rooms, of which 390 have been retrofitted for greater convenience and accessibility of the occupants.
However, putting a roof over heads is only the tip of the iceberg. A medical centre will provide 24-hour assistance, the dining hall is expected to serve 14,000 meals, while four sports - goalball, five-a-side football, powerlifting and sailing - will take place at MBS.
In addition, a transport centre has been set up to facilitate travel to the Sports Hub, which will host nine events.
After seeing the success of the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Singapore in June, chief of client services for the Singapore Asean Para Games Organising Committee (SAPGOC) Rostam Umar (above) insisted they were determined to put on an equally good show for the APG.
"The message we want to send across is that we want the Asean Para Games to be as good, if not better, than the SEA Games," said Rostam, who is also the mayor of the Games Village.
"After preparing in the last few months, we're very excited to now see all the different parts coming together.
"We are into the last leg of our preparations and there are just minor tweaks to be made here and there, but we will be 100 per cent ready for the Games."
Rostam also expressed confidence that they would be ready to overcome any potential obstacles that the Games might throw their way.
He added: "I think we cannot underestimate the challenges posed, but I believe we've given due consideration to all the potential complications that could arise.
"Bearing in mind there are no venues, or even things like transport, that are purpose-built to deal with 400 people with wheelchairs ... a lot of consideration had to be taken on board to cater to them.
"We've done our planning and we're comfortable that we have all grounds covered, and it's now about seeing what kind of adjustments we might have to make come actual Games time."
There has also been talk of heightened security at the Games, especially following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.
Last week, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Grace Fu, confirmed that security would be a top priority throughout the event.
When asked by The New Paper for an update on the situation, Rostam said: "We are always in consultation with SPF (Singapore Police Force) on what (measures) we have to put in place or if there needs to be more."
ACCESS: Lower sinks and showers are fitted in 390 rooms at MBS.
Marina Bay Sands lays claim to being the largest hotel in Singapore with 2,561 rooms and 1,300 of these will be home to Asean Para Games athletes and officials over the next fortnight.
To cater to athletes who are wheelchair users or require the assistance of care-givers, 390 rooms have been retrofitted to increase convenience. Many of the new fixtures are in the bathroom, including an emergency response button and an extendable shower hose.
Athletes and officials will also enjoy the hotel's facilities like swimming pool, gym and business centre.
ATTENTION: The 24-hour medical centre is located at Tower 3.
APG athletes and officials will be guaranteed round-the-clock medical assistance, with a whole level of rooms in MBS' Tower 3 having been converted into a medical centre.
Doctors will be on hand 24/7 to attend to any patients and work closely with a team of nurses to ensure any illness or injury is promptly and effectively treated.
An extensive array of medical equipment is on hand in the Medical Centre's many rooms, allowing various tests - blood samples, for example - to be carried out onsite.
EASE: Buses modified to accommodate up to three wheelchairs (above) and vans for the disabled athletes (below) are available at the transport centre.
With nine of the 15 sports taking place at the Sports Hub, there will be plenty of travelling involved but all that will be taken care of at the transport centre.
Three of MBS' exhibition halls have been converted into the transportation hub, which is a stone's throw away from the Games Hall.
The 12 boarding bays will provide access to a total of 90 buses and vans plying between MBS and the Sports Hub.
Each of the vehicles has also been modified to accommodate up to three wheelchair users at any given time.
TNP PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Apart from being the Games Village, MBS will also hosts four sports - goalball, five-a-side football, powerlifting and sailing.
No photographs of the arena were allowed as workers were applying the finishing touches in converting the exhibition halls into a sporting arena.
Nonetheless, the fields of play looked in good order - not dissimilar to those at the 28th SEA Games - and each arena will be able to hold 500 spectators at the very least. - GABRIEL TAN
KNOW YOUR PARA-SPORTS
S’pore’s Juni Syafiqa Jumat. PHOTO: ST
Boccia, derived from the Italian word meaning to bowl, is a target ball sport that is similar to petanque and bowls.
It was developed for people suffering from cerebral palsy. The goal is to throw or bowl the game balls (red or blue) as close as possible to the white target ball called a "jack".
The sport is contested by players with cerebral palsy (CP) Grade 1 (poor functional range in movement, poor functional strength in arms, legs and trunk, unable to propel a wheelchair) and Grade 2 (poor functional strength in arms, legs and trunk, able to propel a wheelchair).
The athletes are divided into four sport classes - BC1, BC2, BC3 and BC4 - which separate them according to their level of disability.
CEREBRAL PALSY FOOTBALL
This event is adapted for athletes with cerebral palsy, and therefore is played with seven players instead of 11, and on a smaller pitch.
One match is played over two halves of 30 minutes each. It is open to only athletes from CP grades 5 to 8 (no need for wheelchair).
One player from Grade 5 or Grade 6 must be on the field at all times. Otherwise, the team will have to play with six players instead of seven. Each team are also allowed to field only one CP8 player.
Visually impaired chess player Edwin Tan. PHOTO: ST
Athletes with physical and visual impairment can play the sport.
Visually impaired athletes are allocated into one of the three sport classes according to the International Blind Sport Association.
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BY THE NUMBERS
2: Malaysia is the only country to have hosted the Asean Para Games twice - the first edition in 2001 and then in 2009 (originally scheduled in Laos) - in Kuala Lumpur. The other hosts besides Singapore are Vietnam (2003), the Philippines (2005), Thailand (2007), Indonesia (2011) and Myanmar (2013).