‘Blended’ initiative launched for sports in Singapore
$5m in grants on offer for programmes that combine the physical and virtual
A gamified race with over 1,000 virtual checkpoints and challenges across Singapore; a running event which offers participants an audio and video guide via an app; and a zumba relay over seven hours featuring around 7,000 enthusiasts.
Those are some of the 12 events that have received Sport Singapore (SportSG) grants under the "Blended" initiative.
"Blended" is part of the Government's $50 million Sports Resilience Package, with $5m set aside for event organisers, event management companies, private academies and clubs to engage Singaporeans via "phygital" hybrid event formats - which combine both the physical and virtual.
Launched yesterday, "Blended" aims to offer "phygital" competitive sports, physical activities and recreational fitness programmes from this month till March 2021.
Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth as well as Trade and Industry Alvin Tan said: "With 'Blended', we are redefining our approach to sporting events by encouraging organisers to combine physical and digital elements in sport.
"This gives sports businesses the impetus to use technology to transform their offerings into 'phygital' events that deliver a more interactive experience for participants."
Mass participation sports and fitness events have been hit by measures implemented to curb the spread of Covid-19, leading to the popularity of hybrid events such as virtual runs.
These runs allow participants to pound pavements at their own pace and in their own space, and often, over several sessions, with the data collected via apps.
Event management company Orange Room has organised a few such virtual events, like the Circuit Breaker Virtual Run, Run for Heroes and Run-4-Asia Virtual Run Challenge.
Its managing director Elvin Ting said: "Many local companies are still embedded in traditional brick-and-mortar business models, and understandably so, as mass participation sports have fundamentally revolved around one-off fan experience at events.
"However, digital technology offers the potential for more touchpoints to engage fans on a deeper level and learning what truly creates an experience they seek.
"I feel that 'Blended' will make both physical and online experiences more meaningful for fans, and provide deeper insights to bring accurate and direct value to commercial partners in the new normal."
Some of the events that have been given grants under the "Blended" initiative include Run as One Singapore, which features a tracker app that guides, records, encourages and paces athletes; District Race Singapore, which involves participants navigating virtual checkpoints while completing challenges; and Zoomba - an attempt to create the nation's longest zumba relay.
Said SportSG's deputy chief executive Chiang Hock Woon: "We want to see greater digitalisation in the industry and hope that 'Blended' will contribute in setting the pace for the transformation of the sporting industry, and encourage the development of innovative and fun ways for the community to play sport and stay active.
"It is really exciting to see how adopting a hybrid model allows us to tap on both the physical and virtual aspects to amplify the reach and scale of events, deepening and creating new and meaningful experiences for all."