Workers' Party calls for equal prize money among Olympic and Paralympic medallists

Para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu (second from left) and shuttler Derek Wong (right) receiving the national flags prior to the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, on July 9, 2016.
Para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu (second from left) and shuttler Derek Wong (right) receiving the national flags prior to the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, on July 9, 2016.ST PHOTO: DANIEL NEO

SINGAPORE - The Workers' Party has called for equal prize money for local athletes who win medals at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

National swimmer Joseph Schooling won gold in the men's 100m butterfly at last month's Olympics in Brazil while last week in the same Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio, para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu clinched gold in the women's 100m backstroke S2 race and broke her own world record in the event.

Under the Singapore National Olympic Council's Multi-Million Dollar Awards Programme, Schooling will receive $1 million for finishing first. Yip, who suffers from muscular dystrophy and is wheelchair-bound, will collect $200,000 through the Athlete's Achievement Award given out by the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC).

The Tote Board is the primary sponsor for both cash schemes, which gives out monetary rewards for the athletes' achievements at major Games.

In a statement released on its website on Tuesday night and signed by media team chair and Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Daniel Goh, the WP said: "Our paralympians deserve the same respect and value as our able-bodied athletes. To compete at the pinnacle of one's sport demands dedication, sacrifice, discipline, and an indomitable fighting spirit. Our paralympians embody these values and are an inspiration to all Singaporeans.

"Our Paralympians demonstrate what we can achieve as an inclusive sporting nation. The smaller pool of competitors at the Games should not be reason to deny our paralympians the recognition and compensation that is due to them. It is only right that they should receive equal treatment as any Singaporean athlete who competes at the highest international levels.

"For their equally important and inspiring achievements, the Workers' Party calls for our national para-swimmers to receive the same prize awards from the Singapore National Olympics Council as their able-bodied counterparts.

"Our paralympians demonstrate what we can achieve as an inclusive sporting nation. The smaller pool of competitors at the Games should not be reason to deny our paralympians the recognition and compensation that is due to them. It is only right that they should receive equal treatment as any Singaporean athlete who competes at the highest international levels."

Schooling was the only medallist from the Republic's 25-man Olympic contingent. It was the first time that the country had won an Olympic gold.

The 13-man Paralympic team currently in Brazil has won a gold and a bronze (Theresa Goh in the 100m breaststroke SB4 event) and with Yip and four-time Paralympic medallist Laurentia Tan (equestrian) due to compete in other events, Singapore could win more medals before Sunday's closing ceremony.

Theresa told The Straits Times on Tuesday: "Obviously it would be nice for equality to be had but, it's really not a main concern of mine with regards to prize money. It's more important to me that the amount of support given when an athlete, whether para or not, is growing and trying to create success, is sufficient and equal."

On Sunday, Malaysian Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced that the country's Paralympic gold medallist would receive the same RM1 million (S$331,000) reward as an Olympian, up from RM300,000 in the past.