SINGAPORE - National swimmer Quah Zheng Wen has been granted a second deferment on his national service (NS) obligations, until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Quah, 19, was to have enlisted in July last year but he and teammate Joseph Schooling received a long-term NS deferment to prepare for the Rio Olympics.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced this in a Facebook post on Thursday (Sept 22).
"I spoke to Zheng Wen and his father. I thanked them for their commitment to excellence, the many hours of training Zheng Wen has put in and many more needed for the next four years, for him to win in Tokyo 2020. I wished Zheng Wen the very best in his training and his ambition to win glory for Singapore," Dr Ng said.
Lee Kok Choy, president of the Singapore Swimming Association, said: "We're of course extremely grateful to Mindef and the Government for granting Zheng Wen deferment.
"This will give him the opportunity to concentrate on training for the 2020 Olympics. It's great news and we're very excited. The best decision has been made with the interests of swimming, so we're very happy."
The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said in a statement that the Armed Forces Council received Quah’s application of extended deferment this month and assessed the application in consultation with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.
Deferment may be granted to exceptional sportsmen who can show that they need to train full-time and can clinch medals internationally, Mindef said
In Rio, Quah clocked personal bests to make the semi-finals of both the 100m and 200m fly.
His deferment expired at the end of August, with Quah mulling over whether to apply for an extension even as Olympic gold medallist Schooling was granted a second deferment to get ready for the Tokyo Games.
In Parliament last Tuesday (Sept 13), Member of Parliament and former Singapore Table Tennis Association president Lee Bee Wah called for a clearer policy on NS deferment for male athletes.
At present, each deferment application is assessed on a case-by-case basis, according to Mindef.