Teo tells athletes: Be vigilant in Rio
In light of negative news in Brazil, CDM spells out the do's and don'ts
The first Olympics to be held in South America will also present new challenges.
But Team Singapore chef de mission Low Teo Ping is confident of the precautionary measures and "bag of tricks" his team will have before, during and after the Games.
Ahead of the opening ceremony on Aug 5, Rio 2016 has been dogged by negative headlines, including the deadly Zika virus, an Australian Paralympic athlete being robbed at gunpoint, and drug-resistant super bacteria found in open water bodies for sailing and rowing competitions.
"This is a different Olympics, unlike those we have been involved with before," said Low.
"There is a need to inculcate a sense of responsibility among our athletes and officials to look after themselves with regard to health and security.
"It's challenging, but we are prepared for these issues and we will equip them with everything needed to stay healthy and safe.
"From the number of visits I have had with the athletes, they are not worried about these issues. None of them is not excited about going there, and their parents are also excited about going to another part of the world to see their children compete.
"But our key message remains: Don't let your guard down, be vigilant and don't take unnecessary risks outside of the sport you are competing in."
One month to go before the Olympics, Low and Singapore's Paralympic Games chef de mission Ho Cheng Kwee, held a briefing at the Singapore Sports Institute yesterday to share some of the initiatives taken.
These include the "bag of tricks" to combat the Zika virus, which is essentially a back pack that contains a diffuser, citronella or lemongrass essential oil, compression sleeves for arms and calves, insect repellent and permethrin solution to treat attire.
Low said: "What is different from previous Games is that we want those who are travelling with us to continue the preventive measures for two weeks after returning from Rio, because we don't want to create a panic here in Singapore.
"They should also minimise travel around Singapore, visit their nearest medical centre for Zika testing and report the presence or absence of symptoms."
While Rio de Janeiro is a beautiful city with numerous spectacular sights and sites such as the Copacabana beach and Christ the Redeemer statue, Low urged his team to exercise restraint in view of the high crime rate.
He added: "We want them to just travel from bubble to bubble from the Olympic Village to their respective competition venues and not stray away from that.
"There will be coaches to ferry them to and fro the venues via the Olympic Lane Network, and the buses are fitted with transponder devices to track their whereabouts and make sure they are on time.
"Maybe after the events have all ended, we will see what we can do, perhaps have a tour of the city together."
Chief medical officer Darren Leong also shared with The New Paper some of the precautions for Singapore's sailors and rower, who make up 11 out of a maximum of 25 Olympic-bound athletes.
He said: "Most of our sailors have been to test events at least once since last year and they have noticed that the waters are getting cleaner in the sense that there are fewer dead animals, but we acknowledge the presence of a superbug in the waters that was reported last year.
"Having discussed with the infectious-disease consultants, our sailors and rower have gone for cholera vaccines.
"They will also be taking oral anti-biotics twice a day to prevent gastrointestinal diseases and diarrhoea and bathe with anti-bacterial body wash daily.
"If they suffer any cuts or abrasions, they are to go to medical tents to clean their wounds."
Despite the challenges, Low is confident of a good showing from his team with the solid support from all the stakeholders involved.
He said: "If our athletes like Joseph Schooling and Jasmine Ser can better their personal bests, they could get on the podium, and we are optimistic for a good performance this Olympics."
‘BAG OF TRICKS’ TO FIGHT ZIKA
- Permethrin solution to treat attire.
- Lemongrass or citronella essential oil.
- Insect repellent.
- Compression sleeves for arms and calves.
PRECAUTIONS FOR SAILORS/ROWER
- Take oral anti-biotics twice a day.
- Bathe with antibacterial body wash daily.
- Vaccination for cholera.
Top-8 target for shuttler Liang
BELIEVE: Liang Xiaoyu has boosted her confidence after doing well at the Thailand Open. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
She will be competing in her first Olympics next month, four years ahead of her own expectations.
Despite her inexperience on the biggest sporting stage of all, shuttler Liang Xiaoyu is aiming to do well in her Olympic bow in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The 20-year-old singles specialist, who has worked her way to a career-best world ranking of No. 29, is gunning for a top-eight finish there.
Only men's singles player Ronald Susilo (Athens 2004) and the women's doubles pair of Jiang Yanmei and Li Yujia (Beijing 2008) have reached the quarter-finals since badminton was included as a medal sport in 1992.
"I hope to play to my standard, to show on the court how I have progressed in the past months, and to play with no regrets," said Liang during a pre-Olympic media day at the OCBC Arena yesterday.
"And, I hope to make the top eight."
The Jiangsu native, who followed her parents to Singapore in 2007, has shot to prominence since last October, when she beat former world champion Ratchanok Intanon at the Thailand Open semi-finals.
Confidence boosted, the 2014 Youth Olympian has seen her world ranking rise by about 90 spots since then.
"Most people just focused on my win over Ratchanok because of her status, but I also had two tough matches before I beat her," Liang said.
"In those two matches, I also beat opponents I had never beaten before; my confidence went up and it was like I rediscovered myself and my abilities."
Confidence had been hard to come by for Liang just two years ago, as the former world junior No. 4 found it tough to make the transition to the senior stage.
"I was used to winning matches at the junior level, but found myself losing more often in Open tournaments," she recalled.
"The opponents are more experienced and have better technique, so it was normal to lose more during the transition period, but I felt down."
Luckily, her father, who is also a badminton coach, and her coaches counselled her. Her determination also helped her tide over the rocky phase.
Liang and her family's decision to stop her polytechnic studies last year to focus on the sport has also borne fruit, but she knows the Rio Olympics are just another step towards making a name for herself.
She said: "My ranking and my Olympic debut are good signs of my progress, but I feel I have to do even better now.
"Sport rewards those who work hard; even if it is not always so, I have to demand more of myself to do better.
"Also, more people are looking at me and having expectations of me now, so I hope I can do even better."