World-class action at Sports Hub this weekend

Aerial view of the Singapore Sports Hub.
Aerial view of the Singapore Sports Hub. PHOTO: ST FILE

From football friendlies involving the likes of Brazil, Juventus and Arsenal to tennis' WTA Finals and the SEA Games and Asean Para Games, the Sports Hub has seen its share of major sporting events since it opened in 2014.

But this weekend stands out as the Sports Hub welcomes two international events and a host of world-class athletes.

The National Stadium will stage the World Rugby Sevens Series headlined by New Zealand star Sonny Bill Williams while double Olympic badminton champion Lin Dan and former world champion Ratchanok Intanon hold court at the Singapore Open held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

It is a combination to whet any local sports fan's appetite. Tax consultant Rachel Wong, 28, has bought a ticket to see her favourite All Blacks and was in two minds about going to cheer on former world No. 1 Lin.

She said: "I would still consider watching the badminton if there's an opportunity to go, since it's just next door at the same venue. Two big events at the same time, it's quite rare to find that in a weekend at the same place in Singapore."

  • BUSY HUB

  • 15,000
    Badminton's OUE Singapore Open at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

    30,000
    Expected crowd at the Singapore Rugby Sevens at the National Stadium.

Both stadiums are expected to be at near-capacity with the Sports Hub, Singapore Rugby Union and Singapore Badminton Association together deploying about 1,500 staff on the ground to handle the tens of thousands of spectators.

Said Sports Hub chief executive Manu Sawhney: "The two international sporting events will make the Sports Hub a hive of vibrant activity and the destination for a spectacular weekend of world-class sport and entertainment."

Organisers of the badminton tournament expect about 15,000 fans this weekend while the Singapore Sevens should see daily crowds of about 30,000, which would be a record for the sport in Singapore.

Roughly 30 per cent of these are from overseas, noted organiser Rugby Singapore. Its chairman Low Teo Ping said: "Initially we were a bit concerned having to compete for fans but response has been encouraging. To have 75,000 fans coming here for the weekend, that's wonderful for Singapore sport."

Hotels were also delighted by the influx of tourists. Occupancy at the Marina Mandarin Singapore is above 90 per cent, an increase of 12 per cent from the same period last year.

Its director of marketing and communications Patricia Yong said: "The hotel has been running full this entire week due to the Food and Hotel Asia event and the weekend is looking at high occupancy due to the Singapore Sevens."

Jonathan Wong

•Additional reporting by Alvin Chia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 16, 2016, with the headline 'A rousing weekend expected at the Sports Hub'. Print Edition | Subscribe