SEA Games can 'create more opportunities' for athletes, pledge senior officials at Asean forum

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong at the 6th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Sports on Oct 28, 2021. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF CULTURE, COMMUNITY AND YOUTH

SINGAPORE - Future SEA Games will bear a closer resemblance in terms of the sports offered as the Asian and Olympic Games, senior officials pledged on Thursday (Oct 28) at the 6th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Sports (AMMS-6).

By working closely with the SEA Games Federation and respective National Olympic Councils, this "will create more opportunities for Asean athletes to compete and to build a stronger foundation in the lead-up" to these major Games.

The region has a combined population of almost 680 million but routinely underperforms at the Summer Games.

At the 2020 Tokyo Games, Asean claimed just three golds. At the 2016 Rio edition, the haul was five golds. Four years before that in London, Asean failed to win a single gold medal.

The biennial SEA Games usually features a huge programme. The 2019 Games in the Philippines saw a record 56 sports while next year's Hanoi Games will feature 40 sports.

While Olympic and Asian Games events like athletics, swimming, badminton, shooting and table tennis always feature at the SEA Games, many sports popular in the region like muay thai, silat, lawn bowls and fin swimming have also been included by the various host nation, especially if they excel in them.

In his opening address, Singapore's Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said: "Sport plays a critical role in fostering stronger people-to people relations and engagement within Asean and has this ability to unite and rally us - just as it has done so today.

"Let us continue to work together as one Asean to realise our region's sporting aspirations."

The AMMS-6 was held virtually and attended by sports ministers and delegates from the 10 Asean member states. It was Singapore's first time chairing the biennial meeting since its inception in 2011. The next edition in 2023 will be chaired by Thailand.

Another key area of focus is strengthening its anti-doping capabilities, Mr Tong noted, as part of the Asean Work Plan on Sports 2021-2025 which was adopted at the AMMS-6.

The Republic will lead such efforts in the region by working closely with World Anti-Doping Agency and the Southeast Asia Regional Anti-Doping Organisation to raise the capability and capacity of National Anti-Doping Organisations, by increasing awareness on anti-doping, and training officials.

It will also share best practices in high performance sports with fellow Asean members through the Association of Sports Institutes in Asia - Singapore is one of its founding members - as well as share expertise and insights on health and wellness through national agency Sport Singapore's Active Health programme.

Hidilyn Diaz reacts during the Weightlifting events of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 26, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The Asean active citizens worldwide benchmark report on sports participation, which surveyed over 15,000 respondents across 10 Asean cities nominated by each member state, was initiated by Singapore and started early this year. It took nine months to complete.

The report studied how sports can be used to bring about better health, social and economic outcomes for member states and the community. The insights would also help in fostering regional sport collaborations and partnerships across the region

It will be finalised in consultation with the member states.

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