SINGAPORE - Lessons have been learnt from the disruptions surrounding the 2019 Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM), and these will be taken into consideration when this year's edition of the mass run is organised.
This was the assurance made by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu in a written response to questions from three MPs in Parliament on Monday (Jan 6).
"We will work with the event organiser and relevant agencies to study these points, including suggestions to de-conflict the SCSM with other major events, and the need to enhance public communications on the road closures," Ms Fu said.
"Given the scale of the Singapore Marathon and our ambition for it to be amongst the World Marathon Majors (WMM), we recognise that the logistics will pose inconvenience to stakeholders and members of the public in the initial years, and we will keep aiming to improve how future editions are organised.
"But we hope that with the support of Singaporeans and by working closely with partners, we can build up the SCSM into an event that all Singaporeans can be proud of and look forward to."
The 42.195km race, which usually flags off before dawn, started at 6pm on Saturday, Nov 30, last year.
Organiser Ironman Asia believes the shift in timing will boost the Singapore marathon's chances of being listed among the WMM, a series of the world's most prestigious marathons.
But the move meant the downtown city area was particularly crowded that weekend.
An unprecedented convergence of three other events along with the SCSM - a concert by Irish rockers U2, the C3 Anime Festival Asia and Christmas Wonderland at Gardens by the Bay - resulted in some motorists being stuck on the roads for over two hours.
Couples holding wedding banquets in town also encountered problems, with guests and vendors unable to make the functions in time.
As a result of the public outcry, Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC), Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) and Mr Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC) on Monday asked how such issues could be avoided in the future.
Ms Fu said the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and national agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) supported SCSM's bid for WMM status to "enhance the significance of the event for Singapore from a social, sporting and economic perspective" and aspired to "showcase Singapore's vibrancy and character to the world" through it.
She said SportSG and Ironman had recognised that the new evening flag off would be "a complex and major undertaking" and took preparations seriously.
The move saw a marked increase in the number of participants and spectators, with nearly 30,000 participants running in the marathon and half-marathon events, and more than 70,000 supporters at the designated spectator zones and along the route.
Planning began shortly after the end of the 2018 race which took place on Dec 9 that year, noted Ms Fu.
"A joint operations committee involving the organisers and various Government agencies, such as the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Traffic Police, was set up to develop and implement traffic plans and minimise inconvenience to the public.
"A detailed traffic impact study was conducted, and plans took into careful account accessibility for essential services such as hospitals and fire stations."
On the day of the event, 500 auxiliary police were deployed at critical road junctions to redirect motorists and advise on alternative routes.
Organisers also coordinated with the Singapore Tourism Board to engage affected businesses and more than 150 stakeholders since the start of 2019 and road closure information was shared early, Ms Fu added.