Parliament: Buffer time and indoor venues for SEA Games in case of haze

Organisers of next year's SEA Games which will take place here,  will build in buffers into the competition schedule, or move some events indoors, in case the haze causes events to be disrupted. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Organisers of next year's SEA Games which will take place here,  will build in buffers into the competition schedule, or move some events indoors, in case the haze causes events to be disrupted. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Organisers of next year's SEA Games which will take place here, will build in buffers into the competition schedule, or move some events indoors, in case the haze causes events to be disrupted.

The Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee is also working on a set of criteria to determine whether or not to proceed with events at differing levels of air quality, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong in Parliament on Wednesday.

This framework would take reference from the air quality descriptor and public health advisories issued by the National Environment Agency, and will be overseen by sports representatives and experts in various fields, such as medical, communications and security, he said.

Mr Wong was responding to Nominated MP Nicholas Fang's call for updates on contingency plans to minimise the impact of transboundary haze on the games. Mr Fang is also the Games' chef-de-mission.

The haze has typically been an issue during the dry period between June and October, said Mr Wong.

Last year, the three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) climbed to an unprecedented 401, firmly placing it in the "hazardous" range.

Giving an example of how such buffers in the Games schedule could work, Mr Wong said that the marathon, can be postponed, as it is scheduled to take place early on in the Games programme.

He admitted that there are limitations, however.

"Not all sports can be played indoors and there are limits to how much we can adjust the competition schedule. So if the bad air quality persists, then we may have no choice but to shorten or cancel certain events," he said.

But he assured the House that postponements or cancellations would not cost more.

"Provisions are made in the contracts so that we can make these cancellations in the event of such scenarios. So I think we are able to manage the cost implications from the haze," he said.

"I would like to assure (Mr Fang) that we will spare no effort to ensure a safe Games for all athletes, officials, supporters, volunteers and spectators," he added.

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