Public badminton courts, gyms were most visited sports facilities over first phase 2 weekend

SINGAPORE – Badminton courts and gyms were the two most popular public sports facilities used by residents here as the country moved into phase two last Friday (June 19), Sport Singapore (SportSG) said on Monday (June 22).

In response to queries by The Straits Times, national agency SportSG said an average of over 68 per cent of the 15,000 slots available for public gyms from June 19-21 (5,000 each day) were taken up.

The rate was even higher for badminton courts at over 90 per cent of about 3,000 slots (1,000 each day) snapped up. In fact, on Sunday, all available courts were booked up.

Entry to all ActiveSG facilities, except stadiums, is only via online bookings to enable venue operators to monitor the number of people. The operating capacity for each site is restricted to 10 sq m per person, or a maximum of 50 people per facility.

A SportSG spokesman said the high demand for badminton courts, which can accommodate four players per booking, was “due to the popularity of the sport” and added newer and larger facilities proved more popular among users.

For example, the Heartbeat @ Bedok and Our Tampines Hub, which were opened in 2018 and 2017 respectively, were the sports centres that saw the highest number of bookings.

Bookings for the usage of swimming pools, however, were comparatively low compared to gyms and indoor halls.

Lap swimming saw an average of 37 per cent of 15,000 slots (5,000 each day) while slots for coaching saw 47 per cent of 1,200 slots (400 per day). Across Saturday (June 20) and Sunday (June 21), the take-up rate for coaching slots was just under 60 per cent each day.

While the recent wet weather could be one reason for this trend, another is that swim schools have decided to ease back into operations.

Happy Fish Swim School, for example, will only resume classes on June 26, and its managing director Tan Jian Yong said this was partly due to his team focusing on ensuring all the necessary protocols are in place.

These include planning and rescheduling classes because of guidelines for limited capacity, and training and briefing staff and coaches on the measures and effective crowd controls.

The school has its own indoor and outdoor pool facilities, but also conducts classes at Bukit Batok, Sengkang and Heartbeat @ Bedok Swimming Complexes.

“We started (on the tasks) in early June and it has taken us three weeks to complete,” said Tan. “We have had to reduce our (class) capacity by 30-40 per cent, and also have to convince some of our customers to join at a later date, which can be very challenging. But we are still happy we can resume business.”

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said in an online press conference on Monday a total of 20,000 bookings of sports venues were made over the first weekend of Phase 2 and facilities were operating at “about 40-50 per cent” capacity.

“So we are suggesting to Singaporeans that if they can make use of public park that’s near them,” she said. “Although we try to lengthen the time of operations, this is our way of trying to accommodate as many as we can. We know some may be disappointed, but we try to give everyone a chance.”

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