PAP Minister and Singapore National Olympic Council chairman Tan Chuan Jin told the media he hopes Singaporeans can show more support for local athletes during their games or risk having foreign supporters neutralize Singapore’s home advantage.

He says Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia will likely receive strong support from the large migrant workforce in Singapore, and hopes Singaporeans can show up in force for the 28th SEA Games held 5 to 16th June.

Tan recalled that during the AFF Suzuki Cup which was co-hosted by Singapore last year, Malaysian and Myanmar supporters were outnumbered by Singaporean fans at matches but their voices overpowered Singaporeans’ during matches against the Singapore Lions.

The Games’ football competition starts on May 29, netball (May 31), table tennis (Jun 1), synchronized swimming (Jun 2) and fencing (Jun 3) before the event’s official opening.

“My hope for sports is that it brings our people together because Team Singapore is not only our athletes, but all of us. We need to rally around our sportsmen and sportswomen regardless of results and outcomes to cheer them on because it can be a tremendous source of pride. And I don’t mean it in winning and hearing when the anthem is played but in the spirit we support and how rousing we can be, even in defeat, and even when they are not doing so well.”

“Often as supporters we only watch them when they are competing, but what we don’t see is how much time and effort are put into it. The dragon boaters, for example, have gone into full-time training for the past seven or eight months and been staying together in a dorm since March. They are really serious about their preparations and we should respect that effort.”

“We have armchair critics and keyboard warriors, and it is very easy to criticise our sportsmen and sportswomen. But I’ve not met an athlete or coach or support staff who doesn’t feel the pride in representing our country and (is) not hungry for success,” said Tan.

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