Sport Singapore apologised yesterday for an administrative error that led to the 2019 Singapore Sports Awards' Sports Journalist of the Year award being mistakenly given to the wrong individual.
At Tuesday's ceremony at Orchard Hotel, The New Paper's sub-editor Dilenjit Singh, who also writes, was named the winner of the award, which comes with a trophy and cash prize of $2,000.
SportSG clarified that Straits Times correspondent Sazali Abdul Aziz was the correct winner.
The national agency said in a statement that representatives from the judging panel had alerted it to a possible mistake on Wednesday.
Upon investigation, SportSG confirmed the winning articles were matched to the wrong journalist.
SportSG attributed this to an administrative error by one of its staff, and noted that the auditor for the award ceremony, KPMG in Singapore, was not involved in this part of the process.
SportSG's deputy director for public relations S. Parameswaran said: "We sincerely apologise to Dilenjit and Sazali for the error. We congratulate Sazali on the well-deserved win."
Mr Sazali, 31, joined ST in 2017. Prior to that, he was with TNP from 2010. Last year, he broke the news that the storied Farrer Park playing fields - the unofficial home of Singapore sport for decades from the 1960s - was slated for housing redevelopment. The story and video package evoked strong emotions from sports stakeholders.
Mr Sazali said: "It is always gratifying to receive recognition for your work, and I am grateful for the award. Having said that, Dilen is a close friend, and it is difficult to find joy in a situation like this."
TNP editor Eugene Wee said: "It would have been nice if the error had been spotted and corrected at the event itself rather than two days after, but we understand that mistakes happen and we congratulate TNP alumnus Sazali for his win."
The annual awards are jointly organised by SportSG and the Singapore National Olympic Council. Among the main categories, swimmer Joseph Schooling won his sixth Sportsman of the Year award, while shooter Martina Veloso clinched the Sportswoman of the Year award.
The Sports Journalist of the Year award was introduced last year to recognise those who have consistently produced stories which capture the positive values of sport and inspire Singaporeans to live more active lifestyles.
Besides Mr Sazali and Mr Dilenjit, this year's other nominees were Miss Nicole Chia (ST), Miss Kimberly Kwek (formerly of TNP) and Mr Matthew Mohan (CNA).