S'pore National Paralympic Council working to increase cash award for para-athletes: Edwin Tong

Tong said that the cash award disparity between para- and able-bodied athletes do not reflect how the government values them.

Low Jia Ying | October 05, 2021, 05:41 PM

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Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said in Parliament today (Oct. 5) that the prize money disparity between Olympic and Paralympic medallists "does not reflect how government values our para-athletes vis-à-vis our able-bodied athletes".

He also announced that the Singapore National Paralympic Council is working to enhance the cash awards for para-athletes.

Tong had moved a parliamentary motion to honour Team Singapore Olympians and Paralympians to celebrate their achievements at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Cash awards "funded entirely by private sponsors"

Tong explained that the disparity came about due to the difference in funding for the awards.

He said that prize money awarded to able-bodied athletes come under the Major Games Award Programme (MAP), while the prizes for para-athletes come under the Athletes’ Achievement Awards (AAA).

Tong clarified that the MAP is managed by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) and the AAA is managed by the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC).

Since their inception, these awards "have been funded entirely by private sponsors".

"The award amounts offered under both schemes are raised and determined by the SNOC, and SNPC respectively, along with their sponsors. Individually, the awards under each of the schemes are tiered based on the standard, size and field of competition for each Major Games," he explained.

SNPC working to enhance cash awards

Tong said that the SNPC is working to enhance the cash awards for para-athletes in major games, and that SNPC will announce the outcome of their efforts "in due course".

SNPC has been working to engage corporate entities and private funders to meet this goal.

Currently, a Paralympic gold medal is awarded S$200,000, one-fifth of the cash reward for an Olympic gold medal at S$1 million.

Previously, Singapore's gold-medal Paralympic athlete Yip Pin Xiu shared her thoughts about the disparity.

Speaking to Mothership, Yip said that at first she found it difficult to speak up about this as she was the person "in the middle of it all."

However, she said that her perspective has changed over the years and her status as such a medal winner lets her speak up about it:

"This inequality is happening. For me personally, I don't think it's really so much about the money, but it's more of the message that is sent out...that people with disabilities are not equal."

In his speech, Tong stressed that the cash award disparity does not reflect how the government values the different athletes:

"In our eyes, they are all Team Singapore athletes, and each athlete, abled or disabled, has his or her own intrinsic value, which we value, recognise and appreciate."

Focus should be on uplifting entire disability sporting ecosystem

Tong said that as important as cash awards are, more resources should be put into developing the disability sporting ecosystem.

He said that, among other measures, more can be done by lowering the barriers to entry to disability sports, and by integrating such sports with the mainstream National Sports Associations (NSA).

In doing so, more athletes will be able to benefit, and "more pathways to success and to the elite representation will open up". Tong added:

"Mr Speaker, we will continue to work hard, to foster an inclusive society through sports where people of all abilities can come together to experience, to play, and to socialise, and if they are able to, to excel at the highest level in sports, and through this, to help Singapore and Singaporeans build deep social connections."

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Top photos via Yip Pin Xiu/FB and Edwin Tong/FB