Athletics: Masters will run at Hub after all

Calvin Kang of Singapore leading before ending second in his SEA Games 100m heat last June. He was fourth in the final and the 2008 Olympian believes that running in the main stadium will spur him on to qualify for the Rio Games in August.
Calvin Kang of Singapore leading before ending second in his SEA Games 100m heat last June. He was fourth in the final and the 2008 Olympian believes that running in the main stadium will spur him on to qualify for the Rio Games in August.PHOTO: SINGSOC/ ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS

S'pore Open, Asian senior c'ships to be held at Kallang in May after cuts in rental and costs

After failing to clear several hurdles during negotiations, the Asia Masters Athletics Championships will be run at the National Stadium after all, along with the Singapore Open.

A compromise was reached to stage the two track and field competitions in May after meetings over the past week between organisers Singapore Athletics (SA) and the Sports Hub.

SA had previously pulled out of talks after being quoted a $620,000 fee for four days' rental - double the event's entire budget.

Organisers went on to book Bishan Stadium for a fee believed to be less than $20,000, for which they will now get a refund.

Sources said the Sports Hub has since offered to reduce its quote, which included slashing the cost of converting the stadium into athletics mode by 50 per cent, to around $165,000.

  • 50% Sports Hub has halved its quote for converting the National Stadium into athletics mode

SA president Tang Weng Fei is pleased to return to his original choice of venue, noting that the Sports Hub was "willing to absorb costs" to ensure the event went ahead.

He said: "We are thankful to the Sports Hub for giving a commitment to compromise quite a bit on the cost side.

"This is a good thing for Singapore sports, to see our National Stadium being used by our own talents and the region's finest athletes.

"We hope to formalise the switch back there during the Asia Masters council meeting in Bangkok on Jan 30."

The biennial championships will feature about 2,500 athletes aged 35 years and above, from 26 countries.

This is the fourth time that Singapore will be hosting the competition, after the 1981, 1985 and 1992 editions.

The Sports Hub had come under fire for apparently pricing national sports associations out of hosting events at the $1.33 billion Kallang showpiece.

Its threadbare sporting schedule was also called into question, with three Super Rugby games featuring new Japanese franchise Sunwolves, and the World Rugby Sevens Series in April being the only confirmed sports events this year.

Now, athletics action is set to take up at least a week of the calendar in May as the Singapore Open - showcasing the likes of national sprinters Shanti Pereira and Calvin Kang - will be held in the days leading up to the May 4-8 Asia Masters.

Sport Singapore chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin said: "It's important to have a good mix of events at the Hub to attract people from all walks of life.

"The good news is the Sports Hub is making concessions and has seen how it is party to the success of local sporting events."

Kang, who competed in the 100m heats at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, hopes the atmosphere at the 55,000-capacity National Stadium will spur him on to qualify for Rio 2016.

He said: "Having the Singapore Open in our main stadium instead of a neighbourhood venue makes a world of difference to local athletes."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2016, with the headline 'Masters will run at hub after all'. Print Edition | Subscribe