National School Games suspended, other sports events cancelled or put off

(From left) Tony Low, chairman of Singapore School Sports Council; Education Minister Ong Ye Kung; Zikos Chua (football) from Nanyang JC; Adelina Cheok (rope skipping) from Edgefield Primary; Singapore Primary School Sports Council chairman Lee Hui F
(From left) Tony Low, chairman of Singapore School Sports Council; Education Minister Ong Ye Kung; Zikos Chua (football) from Nanyang JC; Adelina Cheok (rope skipping) from Edgefield Primary; Singapore Primary School Sports Council chairman Lee Hui Feng light the cauldron during the National School Games opening ceremony at the OCBC Arena on Jan 21, 2020.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

A number of local sports events, including those at the school level and national sports leagues, have been either cancelled or postponed after Singapore upped its disease outbreak response to the coronavirus to code orange yesterday.

Others are stepping up measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, or choosing to proceed with caution.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that all external school activities and inter-school activities, including the ongoing National School Games, will be suspended until the end of the March school holidays as part of precautionary measures against the virus outbreak.

"These additional measures are intended to help schools minimise exposure of students to the public and avoid mixing of students across schools," an MOE spokes-man said in a media statement.

Dr Dawn Lim, whose three children - Joel, 13, Joshua, 15, and Clare, 17 - are in the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) tennis team, said it is the right move.

Joshua was scheduled to play in the B Division Boys team semi-finals on Wednesday.

"Obviously, the children will be disappointed because they have been looking forward to the competition and preparing for it," said Dr Lim, who runs a private practice.

"But everyone understands the unique situation, and that health and safety come first. This situation is not something we can control, and (the moves) are for the good of everyone."

In the light of the heightened level, the Singapore Sports Hub has cancelled the ongoing National Stadium Open House this weekend as well as its KpopX Fitness event, which was aiming to enter the Singapore Book of Records for the largest number of participants.

 
 
 

In a media statement, the Sports Hub said it would implement additional precautionary measures, such as requiring vendors and visitors to fill up a travel declaration form and increasing the cleaning frequency of common areas.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) will adopt a range of precautionary measures for upcoming games, which include those in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup tournament from Feb 12 to May 12. Teams from Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia and the Philippines are scheduled to play Singaporean sides Hougang United and Tampines Rovers here.

"We will require participants to register and provide travel declaration upon arrival at the event venue," said an FAS spokesman. Participants will be required to provide contact details for the purposes of contact tracing.

 
 
 

The FAS is also weighing postponing, suspending or cancelling games in the Singapore Premier League, which kicks off on Feb 29, and it said this would be decided after "a comprehensive assessment of the situation and in consultation with the relevant government authorities".

The Netball Super League, which starts today, will be played behind closed doors for now. The games will be streamed live via Netball Singapore's Facebook page.

But for the Singapore Slingers, who play Chinese Taipei side Fubon Braves in the Asean Basketball League at the Sports Hub on Sunday, the game will proceed as normal except for added temperature checks for spectators attending the event.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2020, with the headline 'National School Games suspended, other sports events cancelled or put off'. Subscribe