Newsflash: Singapore’s Olympic ice-skating dreams destroyed by looming economic crisis?

Singapore’s dreams of producing future Olympic ice-skating champions may have been shattered by the looming economic crunch.

According to the report “Upgrades on hold” in today’s edition of TODAY (22 October 2008), CapitaMall Trust (CMT) has announced that it is shelving expansion plans for three of its malls “due to high construction costs and the competitive environment for resources recently”

Said the report:

CapitaMall Trust Management said CMT had planned to add office space and expand the amount of retail space at Funan DigitaLife Mall (Funan); create 95,000 square feet of office space for Tampines Mall; and create a new retail floor, relocate its cineplex and add an Olympic-sized ice skating rink at Jurong Entertainment Centre (JEC).

 

The manager said that these enhancement plans are not critical to sustain CMT’s growth. The $65.2-million differential premium and stamp duties for Funan have already been paid in June and about $16 million in differential premium has been paid for JEC.

 

However, the decision to shelve the plans to build the Olympic ice-skating rink at the Jurong Entertainment Centre will affect not just Jurong residents and ice-skating enthusiasts.

It also means that the Singapore Ice Skating Association’s recently-obtained membership into the International Skating Union and Asian Skating Union could be terminated as a result.

This, in turn, will be a huge blow to SISA’s dream of producing future world-class ice-skaters because it means that the national body will not be able to send its skaters to compete in ISU-sanctioned events like the Junior Grand Prix, World Championships and the Olympics.

Young talents like Ng Yi Ching will not be able to compete in ISU-sanctioned competitions because of CMT's decision not to build the Olympic-sized rink. Picture courtesy of The Straits Times

Young talents like Ng Yi Ching will not be able to compete in ISU-sanctioned competitions because of CMT's decision to shelve plans to build the Olympic rink (Picture courtesy of The Straits Times)

Only ISU members are allowed to compete in these events, and ISU membership is only granted to a national body on condition that it has an Olympic-sized rink.

For years, Singapore has not been able to get ISU membership as the only ice-skating rink in Singapore was the 20m by 40m arena in Fuji Ice Palace at the Jurong Entertainment Cente.

It then looked like a new dawn had beckoned for SISU in February this year when CMT announced that it would be building an Olympic-sized rink (30m by 60m) to replace the Fuji Ice Palace (see reports here

Encouraged and heartened by the news, SISA then applied for provisional membership into the ISU (see report here). All new ISU members are granted a two-year provisional membership before they get full status, with comes with voiting rights.

For Singapore, full membership is on condition that it has an Olympic-sized rink in place by end-2009.

In September, Singapore’s fledgling ice skaters started to enjoy the benefits of ISU membership when national champion Sarah Paw, 15, became the first Singaporean skater to compete in the Junior Grand Prix Mexico Cup in Mexico City. The US$22,500 event was the third-leg of the eight-stop ISU Junior Grand Prix Series.

Delighted SISA president Sonja Chong said then that Sarah’s participation in the Junior Grand Prix Mexico Cup had caused a huge buzz among its young national trainees.

“Skaters here now see that there’s finally an end in sight. They know that if they train hard, they will be able to go for such events too,” she told the media then. 

Chong had also expressed hope that the new Olympic rink would enable SISA to build double its current base of 500-600 skaters by end-2010.

But all these dreams are on the brink of collapse with CMT’s decision to shelve its plans to build the Olympic-sized rink.

Acocrding to the TODAY report, Mr Brandon Lee, an investment analyst from DMG and Partners Securities was quoted as saying that “the decision was a prudent move on CMT’s part to hold back enhancement plans  and to hold cash, in view of a tighter credit market and high costs in construction.

He also said that some of the proposed expansions, for example the ice skating rink, were not neccessities in current market conditions. 

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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