What authorities are doing to weed out harassment and abuse within sport

With issues related to safe sport thrust into the spotlight in recent times, national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) has ramped up its efforts to create a safe sporting environment for athletes.

It is aiming to have at least one trained safeguarding officer in each national sports association (NSA) by the end of this year, and double this number by the end of next year.

The Safe Sport Commission was launched last year to clamp down on harassment and misconduct against athletes. Over 150 safeguarding officers have been trained and of the 64 NSAs, fewer than 10 are yet to appoint a safeguarding officer.

Raising awareness about abusive practices is also a key pillar in SportSG's approach to safeguarding sport.

Head of CoachSG Azhar Yusof, who also oversees the Safe Sport Taskforce, said that more safe sport online modules for stakeholders in the fraternity will be rolled out in the coming months. Coaches will also be taught about "acceptable practices" and how to identify signs and red flags.

Azhar acknowledged that coaches are instrumental in creating a safe environment for athletes, adding that "necessary action" will be taken against those who violate the code of ethics.

Punishments vary according to the severity of each case and will be decided based on two factors: consequence and culpability.

If an allegation arises, CoachSG will conduct an initial investigation and a disciplinary panel may be convened to hear the case "if there are sufficient grounds", before the punishment is meted out, said Azhar, a former national rugby player.

This will run concurrently with police investigations if a report has been made.

Following investigations or a court's final decision, the disciplinary panel may reconvene to decide if additional or more severe punishments such as termination or a life ban should be meted out.

Kimberly Kwek

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2020, with the headline What authorities are doing to weed out harassment and abuse within sport. Subscribe