Singapore

StanChart Marathon organisers sorry for traffic jams

Sport Singapore CEO also apologises, says StanChart marathon organisers will incorporate lessons for subsequent races

Organisers of the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) have issued an apology for the traffic jams that ensnared the city centre on Saturday evening, leading to complaints from those affected.

In a Facebook post addressed to "members of the public" at 11.15pm on Wednesday, the organisers thanked them for their feedback and said: "We have read all your comments and feedback, and we apologise for the inconvenience caused."

Yesterday, Mr Lim Teck Yin, chief executive of national sports agency Sport Singapore, issued a reply to letters in The Straits Times' Forum section in which he also apologised for those "caught off guard and inconvenienced by the traffic impasse". He said organisers would "incorporate this year's lessons for subsequent races".

Organisers explained that the planning for a night race was "a year in the making, with an extensive stakeholder outreach programme which began in January". This included traffic studies that mapped alternative routes and "extensive road advisories", which were disseminated via media outlets alongside SCSM's digital channels.

The disruption created by the annual event this year was in large part due to the change in its start times, when it moved from a pre-dawn start to an evening flag-off. The swop was a key part of its bid to become part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, a series of the world's most prestigious 42km races that annually attract thousands of the world's best runners for its six races.

In his letter, Mr Lim said the shift in timing was to enable more Singaporeans to take part. He noted spectatorship grew this year, with more than 100,000 people coming out to cheer the runners on, and he remained confident that "in the years to come, the meaningfulness of the event will grow as Singaporeans embrace SCSM".

The ruckus has sparked a debate on the race's official Facebook page, between those who were outraged by the disruptions and those who back the marathon in its bid to become "a race for Singapore".

One Pauline Lim wrote: "Marathons are good, but it shouldn't cause considerable inconvenience to others. Please don't say it's just once a year. Imagine your big day being terribly disrupted by the blockage and jams. How would you feel?"

However, others said information about the road closures was made public weeks before. User Andrew To also felt the organisers had nothing to apologise for.

He wrote: "Stop apologising to those self-entitled Singaporeans. I am not a participant but I know the area I should avoid."

The debate follows several that have erupted in recent years over "inconveniences" sparked by sporting events.

Last year, two of the floodlights at Yishun Stadium were suddenly turned off during an Under-19 football match, causing the match to be abandoned.

News reports said the move had been prompted by complaints of light pollution from residents of a nearby condominium. - THE STRAITS TIMES

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