Organising chairman Lim: Opening ceremony sets the tone for the Asean Para Games
Opening ceremony a critical element to set the tone for the Games, says organising chairman Lim
Alice Bee is 78 and is visually and hearing impaired, but it was hard to tell from her dance moves and poses for the cameras yesterday.
The lively retiree (above) is the oldest performer at the Asean Para Games (APG) opening ceremony, on Dec 3 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, which is anchored and inspired by persons with disabilities.
"Singaporeans in general don't really understand the challenges of people with disabilities, hopefully through this Asean Para Games, they will know and understand more," said Bee, on the sidelines of a media preview of the APG opening ceremony at the Kallang Theatre yesterday.
"At first, I didn't know that I was going to be involved. My friend just took me to a place for exercise, but I never regretted it at all because the people here are all friendly and warm.
"I was a bit moody before, but coming here to dance and perform makes me feel alive."
Philip Tan, the ceremony's creative director, music director and composer, said his team have deliberately incorporated performers and backroom staff with disabilities into the 90-minute show to better portray the ambitions and challenges of the disabled community.
One of the ceremony's features is a hand signer together with the emcees throughout.
He said: "We have listened to what they want to say, in what way we can actually transform their art, their sport into a masterpiece on stage."
The show's associate visual director Bertrand Lee is an example.
The 38-year-old, who lost his left leg in a traffic accident in Mumbai in 2005, will produce two videos for the opening ceremony.
"I take it as a responsibility to portray the Games to the best that I can... it is a big responsibility," he said.
"I am disabled, so I think I can better relate to the challenges that these athletes have.
"I have had to overcome a lot of challenges to get back to filmmaking, so I get the sense of how hard it is for the athletes to compete. I hope to bring that spirit to the videos."
Games organising chairman Lim Teck Yin called the opening ceremony a "critical" element to set the tone for the Games.
He said: "What is extraordinary is how people with different abilities are able to come together to celebrate life and the spirit of striving, and to exceed ourselves.
"What would make us proud as a nation, as a people, is to think that people of different abilities have come together in our society to produce something special, something that would inspire us."
Schedule may be changed if haze persists
Organisers of the Asean Para Games (APG) are prepared to amend their competition schedule if the haze hits "untenable" levels in December.
Reports emerged yesterday that the haze, caused by forest fires in Indonesia, may last until early next year.
This means that the APG, to be held here from Dec 3 to Dec 9, may be affected, as did other sporting events here this year, such as the Fina Swimming World Cup.
"When haze levels reach untenable levels for the athletes to continue competing in the outdoor venues we will see a postponement where possible," said Games organising chairman Lim Teck Yin on the sidelines of the APG opening ceremony media preview at the Kallang Theatre yesterday.
"We will also see if we need to extend the competition hours or amend the competition format.
"This decision will have to be taken in consultation with the technical delegates, competition managers and team managers."
Five of the 15 APG sports here are at risk as they will be held in outdoor or naturally ventilated venues - archery (Kallang Cricket Field), athletics and cerebral palsy football (National Stadium), sailing (Marina Bay) and swimming (OCBC Aquatic Centre).
But Lim believes that the haze will not get in the way of letting the athletes shine at the APG.
He said: "I think when you see the spirit of our para-athletes, you will know that we will find some way to overcome whatever challenges that haze may present."
- LIM SAY HENG.
Tan: Mindset is biggest legacy of Para Games
The upcoming 8th Asean Para Games (APG) here will represent a "big step" in making Singapore a more inclusive society, said Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin.
"It's really the whole mindset that I think would be the biggest legacy (of the Games)," said Tan, after visiting APG track and field athletes at the Kallang Practice Track last night.
"It's not as if after the Asean Para Games, everything would be fine and perfect.
"No, but it would be a big step and we hope this journey towards building an inclusive society will carry on and the APG will really provide greater inspiration to get there."
Tan, who is also the president of the Singapore National Olympic Council, then visited para-paddlers and the goalball team at the Singapore Sports Institute at the Singapore Sports Hub last night.
Veteran wheelchair racer Jack Lai was heartened by Tan's visit, and the increased attention to para-sports in the lead-up to the APG from Dec 3-9.
The 58-year-old said: "(The Minister's visit) is recognition of our efforts, that the government is very inclusive to disability sports.
"For too long, disability sports has been languishing in terms of publicity, and this (APG) creates more awareness for us and hopefully will encourage more disabled people to come out and do sports."