Chinese aerobatics team to go ahead with performance at Singapore Airshow despite coronavirus travel ban

An F-15SG aircraft, flanked by two RSAF F-16Ds, in action during the flying display at the Singapore Airshow 2018 on Feb 8, 2018. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Chinese air force's aerobatics team will be performing at the biennial Singapore Airshow next week despite the ongoing ban on travellers from China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Replying to media queries, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said on Thursday night that the participation of the People's Liberation Army Air Force aerobatics team, called Ba Yi, was surfaced to the relevant government agencies.

"After careful consideration and medical assessment, it was decided that the Ba Yi team can continue to participate in the Singapore Airshow 2020," said the ministry.

The airshow is an aerospace and defence exhibition to be held from Feb 11 to 16 at the Changi Exhibition Centre.

Mindef added that the Ba Yi team had taken proactive precautionary measures like regular health checks and medical screening before they flew into Singapore from Tianjin, China.

The team also took precautionary measures during its military transport flight to Singapore and underwent temperature screening.

While in Singapore, the team will also undertake measures such as regular temperature and health monitoring.

The Ba Yi demonstration team, whose name translates to August 1, arrived on Wednesday with nine aircraft, including seven J-10 fighter jets that will feature in the performance, and more than 100 personnel.

The measures Ba Yi took were in place even before the Republic imposed restrictions on travellers from Hubei, noted the Experia Events, which organises the Singapore Airshow.

"The Chinese personnel... are taking all necessary precautionary measures in line with existing guidelines while they are in Singapore," Experia Events' spokesman added.

All new visitors who have been in mainland China within the past 14 days have been barred from entry or transit in Singapore since last Saturday. This measure was part of Singapore's efforts to keep the coronavirus which originated in Wuhan, China at bay.

Experia said on Wednesday that there will be five flying display performances from three countries, namely China, the United States and Singapore, for the Singapore Airshow this year.

It said that Ba Yi will be flying for the first time in Singapore, along with the US Marine Corps' F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, and the US Pacific Air Forces' F-22 Raptor. The Republic of Singapore Air Force will fly an F-15SG fighter jet and two AH-64D attack helicopters.

The Republic of Korea Air Force's aerobatic team, the Black Eagles, on Monday announced its pull-out from the Airshow, as have at least 15 exhibitors from countries like China, Germany, Canada and Britain.

Experia had said the show will go on with precautionary measures, such as having temperature screening at access points and providing hand sanitisers to attendees, although it noted that recent travel restrictions were expected to reduce the number of exhibitors and visitors.

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