HANOI - Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) president Tan Chuan-Jin on Friday (May 20) called on Singaporeans to throw their full support behind the Republic's athletes taking part in the ongoing SEA Games and at international competitions beyond.
The Speaker of Parliament made the comments during a media doorstop at the Melia Hotel where he wrapped up his bilateral visit in Hanoi. He had led a delegation of six members of parliament on an official visit to the Vietnamese capital and met Vietnam President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh among other officials.
When asked for his take on Team Singapore's performance at the May 12-23 SEA Games, he stressed the need for the athletes, who have yielded 47 gold medals so far, to get the backing they need from their countrymen.
"We are all a part of the broader Team Singapore, and it's really important for us to back (national athletes) and cheer them on," he said.
"Obviously there are things that we could do better, but it really behoves us to support them and cheer them on as loudly as possible.
"I'm so grateful to Singaporeans who've made the trip up here to support them but also there are many Singaporeans back home who are cheering on our athletes as well."
He declined to talk about medal targets for the athletes - adding with a chuckle that often it was the Vietnamese leaders he had met who had updated him on where Singapore was on the overall medal tally - but added: "All I ask of our athletes is - do your best.
"It's been very, very difficult for our athletes to train and compete... Some of them have a lot of challenges and difficulties that many of us don't even realise (or are) struggling with injuries.
"Yet many of them have put in their best effort, and I'm really inspired by the approach they took in the build-up, in their performance as well, and I'm really encouraged to see so many debutants being involved."
More than half - 243 - of the 427 athletes representing Team Singapore in Hanoi are making their SEA Games bow. The three golds they won yesterday in shooting, xiangqi and cue sports has helped them surpass the previous third-best away showing of 43 golds won at the Korat Games in Thailand in 2007.
Noting that the SNOC takes a "very expansive approach" with athletes at major Games to give young ones exposure and development opportunities, he also praised Vietnam for hosting a "first-class" SEA Games.
"It is really difficult to organise a major Games and amidst Covid, it makes it even more complicated, (there are) so many moving parts," he said.
"To be able to do what they've done really is first class. Talking to our athletes and officials, they have felt nothing but warmth, friendship and hospitality.
"I'm very grateful to Vietnam for hosting this and providing this blessing to all of us."