Singapore sports fans in for four consecutive action-packed weekends

Four-time Olympic medallist Chad le Clos of South Africa will compete in the Singapore leg of the Fina/airweave Swimming World Cup which begins at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on Friday.
Four-time Olympic medallist Chad le Clos of South Africa will compete in the Singapore leg of the Fina/airweave Swimming World Cup which begins at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on Friday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Sports fans in Singapore can look forward to four consecutive action-packed weekends starting with the Fina/airweave Swimming World Cup at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on Friday.

The buzz will move from water to land with tennis' BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore from Oct 23-30 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, followed by the Singapore Cricket Club International Rugby Sevens (SCC 7s) at the Padang from Nov 4-6.

The Battle of Europe 2016, which will see retired footballing greats from England such as Paul Scholes take on their German counterparts including Lothar Matthaus and Karl-Heinz Riedle at the National Stadium, will round up the offerings on Nov 12.

The Oct 21-22 swim meet presented by Yakult will feature stars like triple Olympic champion Katinka Hosszu, double world champion Mitch Larkin and Chad le Clos, runner-up to Singapore's Joseph Schooling in the 100m butterfly at August's Rio Games.

The world's top female tennis stars will make their way to the Republic too, with world No. 1 Angelique Kerber and 22-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams having already qualified for the season finale.

And the SCC 7s, held the weekend after that, will see Olympic medallists grace the Padang.

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Four members of Fiji's gold-winning sevens squad, including Apisai Domolailai, Jasa Veremalua and Jerry Tuwai, will play for team Daveta, who are six-time SCC 7s champions.

Other national players from the Olympic squads of Rio silver medallists Britain and bronze medallists South Africa such as Blitzboks skipper Kyle Brown will also be in town.

These four events, coupled with the Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix, HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens, Super Rugby, golf's HSBC Women's Champions and the SMBC Singapore Open, reinforce the Republic's growing reputation as a prime location for global sporting events.

Some of the factors that have contributed to this include Singapore's good tourism infrastructure, accessibility and an active local scene that is increasingly enthusiastic about sports, said James Walton, who heads Deloitte South-east Asia Sports Business service line.

"Events like the Singapore Grand Prix and WTA Finals are very popular with the high net worth market, which Singapore offers," he said. "To some extent that applies to the SCC 7s as well, because there's a large expatriate crowd in Singapore and it's popular for people to go watch a game during the weekend."

Although the crowd for each of the upcoming events will be "very different" and unlikely to overlap with one another, Walton praised the wide range of events on Singapore's sporting calendar.

He added: "A few years ago, there was only F1. Now there are these, plus the world-class golfing competitions and One Championship's mixed martial arts events.

"So now there's something around once a month, and it's good to have variety and choice."

While he noted that the Swimming World Cup's demographic is "very different" from that of the tennis and rugby events, it serves an equally important purpose.

"People are not going to fly in from (South-east Asia) to watch the Swimming World Cup," he said, "so that's more about targeting the local audience to encourage more people to join the sport."

Jonathan Leow, co-chairman of the SCC 7s' organising committee and Singapore Rugby Union vice-president, said: "It's a good experience for sports fans - the more the merrier.

"October to November is usually slow in terms of sporting events, but this year there are these events, so I think sports fans should be excited that they can watch top-class players compete here in Singapore."

One excited tennis fan is PhD student Donald Tay, who has bought tickets to the WTA Finals.

The 27-year-old has attended the tournament every year since the inaugural edition in 2014, and hopes the feast of sporting action will pave the way for Singapore to host more world-class competitions.

He added: "These events are reaching out to people with different sporting interests.

"Swimming is gaining more and more popularity in Singapore, and for rugby and tennis where the communities are smaller but slowly expanding, it's good that there are more events like this to grow interest in these sports."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2016, with the headline 'Quadruple treat for wide-ranging sports fans here'. Print Edition | Subscribe