SINGAPORE - Stiffer new measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic announced by the Government on Tuesday (March 24) have resulted in the suspension of football’s Singapore Premier League (SPL) and the Netball Super League (NSL).
The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that all sporting events, regardless of size, must be deferred or cancelled, with the measure taking effect from tomorrow until April 30, although it may be extended.
The same rule applies to conferences, exhibitions, festivals, concerts and trade fairs.
Seventeen SPL matches were scheduled to take place between April 5 and 26, and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), which manages the SPL, said in a statement it would announce details on the immediate future of FAS-sanctioned events after engaging the authorities and stakeholders.
“The health and welfare of players, officials, volunteers, fans and all stakeholders is a priority for us during this time and the FAS is committed to working together with the authorities and all stakeholders during this trying time,” said the FAS spokesman.
Hougang United coach Clement Teo noted that the postponement could lead to a fixture pile-up later in the year, but added: “As disappointed as I am, it’s better to be safe than sorry... We should not put our bodies on the line and risk contracting this disease.”
Netball Singapore chief executive Cyrus Medora said a prior decision had already been taken to postpone the NSL semi-finals and final scheduled for March 28 and April 4, respectively.
The national opens team training sessions on Tuesdays will also be cancelled, and the association is considering only holding fitness training in small groups instead.
Earlier on Tuesday, Sport Singapore (SportSG) had suspended all of its youth-centric organised programmes until April 7.
In a media statement, SportSG said there would be disruptions to its curriculum at its Swim Safer assessment, Learn-to-Play programmes at ActiveSG sport centres, SportCares programmes, and 18 ActiveSG sports academies and clubs, which about 5,000 children are a part of.
The suspension also extends to programmes held at SportSG-managed facilities like public stadiums and swimming pools, even if these programmes are not run by the national sport agency themselves.
“We advise national sports associations (NSAs), all private academies and clubs as well as our partners to follow suit to minimise the risk of transmission of Covid-19,” said its spokesman.
Any cancellation of bookings by NSAs will be refunded by SportSG.
The FAS had already suspended training and competition for amateur and age group (Under-21 and below) players after the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition was raised to Orange last month.
Tan Li Yu, owner of football academy LFA Protectors which has about 500 youths between the ages of four and 18, said training sessions will be suspended.
The JSSL League, a youth football league LFA plays in, had been suspended until April 7, although JSSL declined comment on the new guidelines when contacted.
Tan said LFA, which conducts training sessions at the Home United Youth Football Academy, Safra Tampines and ITE College Central, have also shortened their usual programme from 12 weeks to 10, which he estimates amounts to a $25,000 loss in revenue.
He also noted that the reduction in training sessions would hit the academy’s freelance coaches financially.
Peter Tan, whose two sons aged 10 and 12 train at LFA, said: “They are disappointed because they cannot meet their friends, but... if the government believes (the situation) is serious enough to stop training, I support the move.”
National basketball player Wong Wei Long, who in 2015 founded the Scholar Basketball Academy that now boasts 300 students aged between four and 18, said the school recently tweaked its lessons to focus on technical drills which require no contact, but will soon suspend them altogether.