Playing it safe and sound

Among the athletes and sports and government officials in the 10-strong commission are para swimmer Yip Pin Xiu (pictured), Singapore Sport Institute chief Toh Boon Yi and assistant commissioner of police Tan Tin Wee.
Among the athletes and sports and government officials in the 10-strong commission are para swimmer Yip Pin Xiu (pictured), Singapore Sport Institute chief Toh Boon Yi and assistant commissioner of police Tan Tin Wee.PHOTO: ST FILE

New Safe Sport Commission will look into harassment and misconduct against athletes

Singapore is stepping up its efforts to stamp out harassment in sports here, especially sexual misconduct, with the launch of the Safe Sport Commission yesterday.

Announced by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at the third CoachSG Conference at Republic Polytechnic, the commission handles matters such as education, prevention and report management relating to harassment in sports.

The body is set up by Sport Singapore (SportSG) in partnership with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Ministry of Education, and headed by Chan Yen San, partner at KPMG and SportSG board member.

Among the athletes and sports and government officials in the 10-strong commission are para swimmer Yip Pin Xiu, Singapore Sport Institute chief Toh Boon Yi and assistant commissioner of police Tan Tin Wee.

"We want to educate more parents and athletes to become aware of what constitutes appropriate behaviour in the sports domain, and importantly to take a stand and raise a red flag to coaches, organisers and officials, when they observe that things are not quite right," Ms Fu said in her speech yesterday.

"In time to come, we hope to develop a high sense of awareness across the sporting fraternity in Singapore, that we all have a part to play in ensuring a safe and supportive environment in sports, free from sexual harassment and misconduct, so that our athletes can focus on giving their best in the sporting arena and that public trust in the profession is upheld."

More than 36 officers have been appointed across all the national sports associations (NSAs), educational institutes and government agencies to oversee matters. They will be trained by SportSG, MSF and SPF to deal with harassment cases, which would be reported to police if criminal in nature, or dealt with by the NSA, with SportSG kept in the loop in ethical breaches.

The issue of harassment in sports has come to the forefront in recent years, following several prominent cases of sexual misconduct.

Locally, there were several cases, including one where a football coach was given 26 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane for sexually assaulting seven boys aged between eight and 11.

Chan, who has been on the SportSG board since last year, said: "We need to come up with a framework that is both fair to our coaches and protects our athletes and younger generations.

"We want to make sure their feelings and emotions are protected."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2019, with the headline 'Playing it safe and sound'. Print Edition | Subscribe