Engaging sponsors key

MCCY focused on building system to provide support for all S'porean athletes

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said his ministry values all Team Singapore athletes tremendously and will continue to work with the relevant organisations to engage corporate Singapore to celebrate their achievements.

He was responding to questions in Parliament on the issue of monetary rewards for Paralympians, which has been in the spotlight recently after swimmer Yip Pin Xiu won two gold medals at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

Each win will earn her a $200,000 reward, which is a fifth of the payout for an Olympic gold.

Opposition MP Jamus Lim had asked about the parameters that determine the incentive amounts offered under the Major Games Award Programme (MAP) of the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) - which manages awards for Olympic athletes - and why there is a distinction between the Olympics and Paralympics.

Nominated MP Raj Joshua Thomas, meanwhile, enquired on steps taken by the Government to encourage more private sector contributions to the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC) so that Paralympic medal winners can receive the same quantum as those at the Olympics.

Monetary incentives for Paralympic medallists are administered by the SNPC through its Athlete Achievement Award (AAA) programme.

The Tote Board is the primary sponsor for the AAA and MAP programmes, which also feature contributions from the private sector.

In his written reply, Mr Tong said that his ministry is focused on building a structure and comprehensive system to provide sustained support for Team Singapore athletes of all abilities to pursue their sporting aspirations and achieve their potential, adding that the AAA and MAP are "private award schemes".

"MCCY and (national agency) Sport Singapore value all our Team Singapore athletes tremendously," he said.

"We will continue to work with SNOC and SNPC on opportunities to engage corporate entities and members of the public to celebrate our athletes' achievements."

In response to queries from The Straits Times (ST), a Tote Board spokesman noted that the SNOC and SNPC seek funding from various sponsors, including the board, for the MAP and AAA schemes.

The government agency channels gaming revenue from Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club, as well as the collection of casino entry levy, to worthy causes in the community.

"Beyond contributing to the prize rewards for our medallists at major international sporting events, our focus is to provide opportunities for both able-bodied and para-athletes to realise their maximum potential and to support them in their pre-podium journey," said its spokesman.

ST also sought the views of SNPC chairman Teo-Koh Sock Miang but the organisation declined comment, saying it would share remarks at a more opportune time.

After her wins in the women's S2 50m and 100m backstroke in Tokyo, Yip and other members of the para-sports fraternity called for parity in the amounts of cash incentives for medallists at the Paralympics.

This was echoed by former diplomat Tommy Koh in an opinion piece published in ST last week.

The topic also evoked a strong response from Singaporeans who shared their views - some opposing the call for equal cash rewards on the basis of the narrower field of competition - on the ST Forum page and on social media.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2021, with the headline 'Engaging sponsors key'. Subscribe