The curriculum for Singapore Sports School students makes it hard for them to excel internationally, and this realisation prompted a recently-announced strategic review into the school's future direction.
Making this point in a reply to Nominated MP Nicholas Fang in Parliament on Tuesday, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said: "We recognise that for student athletes with the ability, the potential to excel at the international level, grappling or balancing the demands of both academic and sports training based on the current curriculum in the Sports School may be a bit difficult."
Mr Fang had remarked earlier that it is "almost impossible" to produce Olympic champions with the way studies and sports are being balanced in Singapore.
The strategic review was announced last month, during the sports school's 10th anniversary celebrations. It will study practices of top sports academies worldwide, and how they juggle academia and an intense sporting regime.
Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah also asked if there was any intention to lighten the sports school's academic curriculum, and give more weightage to sports training.
Mr Wong concurred, adding: "I think our sense at this stage is that we can have a better balance between sports and academics, and in particular give a bit more weightage to the sports."
However, he also warned that it would be too risky for student-athletes to go to the other extreme and be "hot-housed" like in other countries, focusing only on sports training without any education.
The minister added: "I think actually it ends up to the detriment of the student, especially for the very many who are unable to excel at that level.
"The attrition rate is significant and many end up with not very much of a sound education to fall back on and they have difficulties finding a good job and progressing on in their careers."