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Mixed reactions from sportsmen, public over live broadcast

SINGAPORE — News that the Rio Olympics will not be shown live has drawn a range of reactions since it broke, with apathy the overriding order of the day, though in some quarters, the argument has been that Singapore cannot afford to do without it.

Mixed reactions from sportsmen, public over live broadcast

Armenia's gymnast Houry Gebeshian attends a training session ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: AP

SINGAPORE — News that the Rio Olympics will not be shown live has drawn a range of reactions since it broke, with apathy the overriding order of the day, though in some quarters, the argument has been that Singapore cannot afford to do without it.

The latter stance, however, has been roundly criticised by those who feel that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Dentsu, the rights holder, are hidebound on extracting a king’s ransom.

Some people have criticised Mediacorp and the authorities, saying that the move is at odds with Singapore’s push to promote a sporting culture, especially when the Republic stands a strong chance of winning medals in a number of sports including swimming (Joseph Schooling in the 100m butterfly), table tennis (Feng Tianwei in the women’s singles), shooting (Jasmine Ser in the women’s 10m air-rifle and 50m three positions) and sailing (Colin Cheng in the Men’s Laser Standard).

One of them was Singapore Swimming Association vice-president (finance) Jose Raymond.

He wrote in a Facebook post that was widely shared: “Representing the swimming fraternity, it is almost impossible for me to be neutral on this matter. Especially when Joseph Schooling’s finals for the 100m fly and 100m freestyle are at 9am and 10am respectively. Different time zone yes, but not at a time when Singaporeans are asleep.

“In fact, this would have been perfect for students in school, people at work and the community to gather and let the world pass by and watch history being made. Together.

“With so much having been invested in sports development, sports infrastructure, in having our athletes prepare for the Olympics, and in trying to inspire a sporting culture in Singapore, perhaps the public should be told why the Government isn’t willing to invest in live broadcast for the Olympics, especially when this would have been a time for a nation to unite, for bonds to be built within communities, and for a sport culture to be further enhanced.”

But others have praised Mediacorp and the authorities for refusing to be held ransom by Dentsu’s pricing.

Singapore Ambassador-at-Large Bilahari Kausikan wrote on his Facebook page: “How many people are really going to stay up until the wee hours to watch?

“I think this fuss is being kicked up by some — how many I don’t know but I suspect not a majority or even a substantial minority of the overall population — diehard sports fans and others latching on to them for other agendas.

“Are our sports men and women going to do better because some of their compatriots are staying up late bleary eyed to watch them on a box half way around the globe?

“They already know Singaporeans hope they will do well and I am sure they will do their best anyway. And it is not as if you are going to wait weeks to know the results or watch the highlights.

“Investing in sports infrastructure is a practical way of encouraging sports and it does not follow that the government must lay out enormous sums for live broadcasts; the money can be better used in other practical ways to promote sports.”

Currently, Mediacorp’s raft of dedicated programmes and digital initiatives include sporting highlights, up to 12 hours of delayed Games coverage daily, and up-to-the-minute news coverage of Team Singapore’s participation in the Games.

Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu had suggested last Sunday that delayed Olympic telecasts would work for Singaporean viewers because of the time difference between host city Rio and Singapore. The Brazilian city is 11 hours behind Singapore.

“Obviously, the whole country is very excited.

“This time around the Olympics is important to us; many of our athletes train very, very hard,” Minister Fu said at the time.

“But obviously it’s 30 hours away, the time zone is different, so I think, while Singaporeans are still very concerned and very interested in the performance of our athletes, I’m sure many of them will try to catch up and watch it at a later date.”

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