President Tony Tan confident Team Singapore can surpass 50-gold haul of 1993
Singapore is on track in its preparations to host the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games this June, despite potential cancellations of some sports and events.
Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee (Singsoc) executive chairman Lim Teck Yin said that the organisers are ramping up their preparations for the regional sports extravaganza, which the Republic will host from June 5-16.
On the sidelines of President Tony Tan Keng Yam's first official tour of the Singapore Sports Hub yesterday, Lim said: "We are starting to dress up the city, and starting to take over the venues.
"It is very important at this stage that everything on paper gets translated to something on the ground. I am sure that there will be things we did not know that we would discover, but the key is we are able to respond to them quickly."
Tickets to a number of the 36 sports - such as swimming and martial arts - have been on sale since late January, with mixed results so far.
Lim said: "Ticket sales are coming along... sports like swimming are doing well, while those sports at the Singapore Expo, hopefully there will be a step-up.
"Some - like rugby and netball - I am not worried because they have a good following.
"It's a question of getting the word out to people, and we have to manage expectations about people buying tickets late. We are working with different groups to make sure that they have access to watching the sports."
The New Paper reported on Tuesday that floorball, a demonstration sport in 2013 in Myanmar, may not be offered as a medal sport here because only three countries - including Singapore - have confirmed their participation.
The SEA Games Federation Charter and Rules mandates that at least four countries have to compete in a medal sport at the SEA Games.
Also, The Straits Times reported yesterday that sailing - a traditional gold mine for Singapore - may have its events reduced from 20 to 15 this year due to a lack of competitors in certain events.
Lim told TNP: "At this stage, we are still hopeful. We hope to get answers soon on floorball... and sailing.
"I don't want to set a deadline and find that I have to extend the deadline later on. The key thing is whether logistically we are able to manage and, for these sports, we can because we are not about to go into a team draw for floorball, we are not about to reschedule the whole sailing calendar.
"So we can hold this off to the very last minute, and we would like to welcome the opportunity for not just our athletes who are training but the foreign athletes as well.
"They have been training very hard and looking forward to coming as well, so whatever we can do to facilitate we will do it."
Dr Tan visited the Singapore Sports Institute gym, the OCBC Arena, the National Stadium, the OCBC Aquatic Centre and the Sports Hub waterfront area, interacting with athletes from golf, gymnastics and aquatics.
He called the Sports Hub an "icon" and said the SEA Games will be a "coming out party" for the $1.33 billion facility.
On the Sports Hub's preparations for the Games, he said: "I've been given a briefing on the preparations on the SEA Games. Everything seems to be in order and I think we are all set to go.
"It's been a long time since we hosted the last SEA Games in 1993... and it coincides with our country's 50th anniversary, so it's something special.
"I am sure we will do very well, and I am confident that we will be able to surpass the 50 gold medals which we won in 1993."
- Additional reporting by ALI KASIM