All ActiveSG indoor sport halls will be closed today as a “time-out” after a Covid-19 patient mixed with other badminton players during a recreational session at the Jurong East Sport Hall on Monday.
In doing so, the players flouted Sport Singapore’s (SportSG) safe management measures and the national sport agency said it hoped that with the temporary closure, “all users of our facilities will take this time to reflect on the importance of exercising individual responsibility for the collective good”.
The move will also ensure they “understand the rules and spirit of the safe management measures”.
The incident prompted the closure of Jurong East Sport Hall yesterday for disinfection and cleaning. A review of the safe management measures will also take place.
SportSG said preliminary investigations found that the patient and a large badminton social group that he played with had breached the safe management measures and rules put in place by SportSG to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
These measures include a cap of four players per court and a rule that players must stay within the court assigned to them. They are not allowed to switch courts, which have physical partitions.
These rules that prohibit inter-group mixing are in force for all sports and not just badminton. They were introduced on June 19, the day sports facilities were given the nod to reopen following the easing of circuit breaker measures.
SportSG said the group members had between them booked up to six badminton courts from 9am to noon that day. During the sessions, there was cross-mixing of players across multiple courts.
It added that it “views any violation of safe management measures very seriously”. “SportSG is investigating this incident and will take strong action against the individual and the other players who have infringed the regulations, including barring them from the use of ActiveSG facilities henceforth.”
It said it would implement new measures to ensure users abide by the rules such as issuing coloured wristbands to be worn by players to identify different groups for each badminton court, and to remind players to act responsibly.
It will also be scrutinising badminton social groups that plan to congregate in a large group at any venue. Individuals involved with such groups, as well as those who play and mix across different courts, will have their bookings cancelled and/or be ejected from the indoor sport hall, as well as barred from the future use of ActiveSG facilities.
SportSG chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin said: “It is very disappointing that some members of the public had not adhered to the rules and circumvented the measures that were put in place by SportSG.
“Such irresponsible behaviour will jeopardise everyone’s efforts to minimise Covid-19 transmission within the community.”
He also urged the community to “do the right thing” so that “our sports facilities can remain open”.
When contacted, the organiser of the Monday session said the group did not intend to breach the safe management rules and did so only “because we did not understand the inter-mingling rule properly and the ActiveSG staff present did not inform us”.
He added that the group would cease organising such sessions “until the rules are clear to everyone”.
He also revealed that 29 people were at the session, including himself.
Of the 18 ActiveSG indoor sport halls, only 11 are open.
Badminton courts are ActiveSG’s most popular sports facilities – there were over 810,000 badminton court bookings last year, the highest of all sports and facilities. Over 90 per cent of about 3,000 slots for public badminton courts from June 19-21 were taken up when sports facilities reopened on June 19.
A spokesman for the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) said it was “disappointed by the irresponsible behaviour of the individual (and other individuals) involved in this incident”. It also called on the community “to show true sportsmanship in adhering strictly to the measures in place”.
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