Start of National School Games put off over rise in community cases

Canoeist Shyan Ang (second from right) of Anglo-Chinese Junior College, seen here competing at the 2019 National School Games, is worried the NSG will be called off as this is the final year that she can compete.
Canoeist Shyan Ang (second from right) of Anglo-Chinese Junior College, seen here competing at the 2019 National School Games, is worried the NSG will be called off as this is the final year that she can compete.PHOTO: COURTESY OF SHYAN ANG

In the light of the increasing number of coronavirus cases in the community, the Ministry of Health announced yesterday that the start of the National School Games (NSG), originally slated for next month, will be postponed.

It added that the Ministry of Education (MOE) will "review again the type of sports to resume and in what format, to ensure that games can be conducted meaningfully but safely for our students", with more details to be released at a later date.

Last year's NSG was suspended twice after it began in January, before it was eventually cancelled for the first time in its 61-year history owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The NSG, which typically runs from January to August, sees about 60,000 student-athletes competing across 29 sports.

Although she understands the rationale behind the postponement, canoeist Shyan Ang is worried that this could mean a second straight year of not competing in the NSG.

With this being her final year to compete in the Games, the Junior College 2 student from Anglo-Chinese Junior College is trying to remain positive.

The 17-year-old said: "Now with all the regulations coming back for Chinese New Year, more cases in the community, the worries (that the NSG will be called off) are coming back, but we are trying not to let this affect us too much. We are taking it as it comes and seeing how it works out."

On Dec 18 last year, ahead of the start of phase three of Singapore's reopening, MOE had said the NSG for sports across the A, B and senior divisions that meet the national guidelines will resume this year.

Sports such as athletics, swimming, badminton, canoeing and table tennis were given approval, while eight team sports - cricket, football, hockey, netball, rugby, softball, volleyball and water polo - were not. Judo was also omitted.

With the start of the NSG pushed back, there is also concern that the competitions would clash with or be too near the examination period.

The uncertainty also makes it challenging for coaches to come up with training plans.

Athletics coach Chen Jinlong, who coaches Victoria School and Raffles Institution, said: "Training programmes are usually 12 to 16 weeks long, and now that this news has come out, we have to play it by ear. It is hard to plan accordingly because of the uncertainty, but we will have to see how the situation goes and plan accordingly."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2021, with the headline 'Start of National School Games put off over rise in community cases'. Subscribe