This report came out in The Straits Times today:
SIA defends Kiwi deal
(The Straits Times, 4 Sept 2009)
Not possible to fund every local sport, it says in response to ST letter
By Christopher Ong
SINGAPORE Airlines (SIA) has defended its decision to sponsor a New Zealand team over the Republic’s World Championships junior dragon boat side, saying it cannot be supporting every local sport.
SIA provides sponsorship in cash and in kind to local sports, ranging from the Singapore Sports School and the Singapore National Olympic Council to the Singapore National Paralympic Council, its spokesman Nicholas Ionides said.
‘As much as we would like to, it is unfortunately not possible for us to support every sport, however,’ he said.
‘In this particular instance, the cooperation with the New Zealand dragon boat team was limited and was a local initiative by our New Zealand station to support the community we operate in.’
The national carrier was responding to a letter by Dennis Tan, the father of one of the Singapore dragon boaters, in The Straits Times Forum yesterday. He had expressed disappointment over SIA’s choice of teams.
The Singapore team, comprising 45 National Junior College (NJC) students and four from Hwa Chong Institution, had won the World Championships Junior trophy in Prague from Aug 26-30.
Despite making their debut at the competition, Singapore won the award – given to the top Under-18 nation – by winning four golds, three silvers and one bronze. They had to fend off stiff competition from 24 other countries, including powerhouses China and Russia.
Tan’s feelings were shared by members of the dragon boat team, among them NJC rower Alyssa Lim.
‘The New Zealand team were staying in the same hotel and we saw the Singapore Airlines logo on their polo tees. It was a little disappointing that they sponsored a team from another country.’
However, it is not uncommon for international companies to sponsor sports teams from other countries.
‘As much as we would like to, it is unfortunately not possible for us to support every sport, however. In this particular instance, the cooperation with the New Zealand dragon boat team was limited and was a local initiative by our New Zealand station to support the community we operate in.’
NICHOLAS IONIDES, SIA spokesman
‘We did not approach SIA for sponsorship, so I don’t think we can blame them.’
YONG YUEN CHENG, team manager and NJC teacher
As anticipated, SIA was quick to respond to and refute any aspersions cast against it by Dennis Tan’s letter (see here) which was published in The Straits Times on 3 Sept 2009.
And in the end, unfortunately for Dennis, the main point – and source of contention – in his letter went flat with National JC teacher Yong Yuen Cheng’s admission that SIA cannot be blamed here as the team did not approach the national carrier for sponsorship in the first place.
In other words, how can one blame SIA for not sponsoring the national dragonboat team’s participation in the world junior championships when it wasn’t even aware of the team’s need for sponsorship in the first place?
Finally, I found it interesting that the NZ team approached SIA (or rather the SIA office in NZ) for sponsorship. Why didn’t the team approach Air New Zealand for sponsorship? Or did they try and were declined?
If the latter, then it doesn’t make Air NZ any different from SIA ie national carriers are not obliged to support the endeavours of national sporting teams although it would be nice if they did.
Also, if you check the SIA website, you will notice that the national carrier doesn’t do much sponsorship for local sports in the first place (see here).
Currently, it provides rebated air tickets to the Singapore Sports School, and it sponsors US$3 million annually to the Singapore Cup, a horse-racing event.
Other than that, the bulk of its sponsorship money seems to go into supporting the arts and education in Singapore. So, any national team seeking its help is likely to hit a brick wall, even if it is the national carrier.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan