As Singapore rolls out the red carpet for 7,000 athletes and officials in its Golden Jubilee year of statehood, a visual spectacle unmatched in the history of SEA Games involving the world’s largest projection system ever deployed in a sporting event will set off on Friday, the epoch-making “Celebration of the Extraordinary”.
The entire floor of the National Stadium will turn itself into a massive screen as 160 high-definition projectors beam the spectacular opening ceremony, marking an unprecedented national effort to co-create the Games for all stakeholders in Singapore.
Behind this massive enterprise of hosting the biggest and richest SEA Games on record is a dedicated organising team (SINGOC) headed by able administrator Lim Teck Yin, who is also the CEO of Sport Singapore.
In this exclusive interview with Post sportswriter HS Manjunath, Lim Teck Yin, a national waterpolo player for nearly 12 years and the driving force behind the city-state earning the right to host the WTA Tennis Finals, spoke about all aspects of this massive project, work on which began the day Singapore was named host several years ago.
Q: The opening ceremony is just a few days away. How significant is it that this edition of the SEA Games comes as Singapore marks the 50th anniversary of independence compared to previous ones?
A: This is a special year for all Singaporeans. It is our turn to host the Games after 22 years. It will be a key milestone in the 50th anniversary celebrations and SINGOC has spared no effort to reach out to different segments of Singapore.
Today we have reached out to 600,000 Singaporeans through our community engagement initiatives. We have engaged 150 schools in our Modular Schools Programme that aims to bring the Games to life through music and drama.
We have received a heartening response to our call for volunteers, with 17,000 stepping forward to take on multiple roles. Beyond receiving an overwhelming response from the community, Corporate Singapore has been very supportive. To date, 100 companies have contributed about S$80 million (US$59.3 million), surpassing our initial target of S$50 million.
Can you touch on the highlights of the opening and closing ceremonies?
The ceremonies will comprise three segments – audience interaction, ceremonial proceedings and the show, Creatively crafted to embody the spirit and theme of the Games: “Celebrate the Extraordinary”.
We are pleased to have the Singapore Armed Forces creative team onboard. In total, 5,000 volunteers and performers representing our diverse ethnic groups will be supported by 3,500 SAF personnel.
From a show perspective, the opening ceremony is the most technically demanding spectacle with an aerial system stretching 500 metres enabling performers and props to fly in a
Singapore stadium for the first time.
We have also introduced a first-in-Singapore Audience Interaction System where spectators will be given a medallion to wear and will collectively form a giant LED video on the screen.
What were the extraordinary challenges you as the head of the operations have come across in putting together the biggest and richest Games in history?
We embarked on a journey to co-create the Games for all stake holders in Singapore. Beyond SINGOC, from various government agencies to commercial partners, everyone has worked hard to make Singapore proud. We have also been mindful of the prudent management of our budgets
Can you take us through the huge infrastructure and human resources investments that have been made with an eye on the future?
From the early planning stages, it was clear we would leverage on our public facilities and related assets. In the lead up we have been working to progressively enhance our existing facilities which will leave a lasting legacy.
We have also recognised the imperative to partner and leverage on the strength of the people, and the public and private sectors. Apart from the 17,000 volunteers, 12,600 public servants will be deployed to meet the operational demands.
What is your message to the participating countries?
Indeed: the success of the Games will not be measured by the amount and tone of celebrations or medals that are won or national pride. But will be measured by the way people come together to celebrate the extraordinary and depart with memorable experiences.
Even as you prepare to compete, I hope you will take some time to enjoy the breathtaking sights of Singapore and the warmth of our people.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.