8 participants allowed for basketball, football, team sports in Singapore's phase 3 of reopening

SINGAPORE – Weekend warriors can now look forward to having more participants – from five to eight – in team sports such as basketball and football when Singapore moves to phase three of re-opening on Monday (Dec 28).

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, wrote: “In line with Phase 3 of re-opening, the cap on group sizes for sporting activities will increase to eight from next Monday.

“This means team sports like basketball, football, hockey and volleyball can now resume with a 4v4 format. Larger facilities can have more than one zone. Not quite time for a 4-3-3 or 4-3-1-2 formation (for football) yet, but this gives sports fans some additional options.”

Dragon boaters can also take to the water in a group of eight, while fitness enthusiasts can participate in studio classes comprising groups of eight as long as they adhere to the revised safe management requirements, said the minister.

He added: “Sport is vital to our physical and mental wellbeing, and as an enjoyable recreational activity. We want to ensure that more Singaporeans can play and enjoy sport, safely.”

Tutor Jeremy Ong, 34, welcomed the news and is looking forward to having a kickabout on New Year’s Day.

He said: “While we understood the Multi-Ministry Taskforce must have its reasons to come up with the numbers it did to curb the spread of the coronavirus, five was a bit pointless when it comes to street soccer.

“Four-v-four is a lot more competitive and I think it is the right move as we seem to have the virus situation under control for now, and this will encourage people to exercise more, within the safe measures, of course.”

National governing body Sport Singapore also on Thursday issued an advisory for the resumption of sport, physical exercise and activity for phase three.

Aside from the changes to group sizes, restrictions were also eased for sports with prolonged grappling (such as wrestling, mixed martial arts and jujitsu) with participants “strongly advised to adopt cohorting arrangements to manage infection risks”.

Cohorting requires that no participant changes groups without observing a 14-day cooling period, during which the person changing groups should avoid participating in sports with prolonged grappling with any other group.

Bank executive Clarice Chia, 34, said: “Previously, we could practise only punching and kicking during our classes. Now, we can start working on our grappling and restraining, which adds another dimension to training.”

Additionally, the maximum number of persons allowed at all sports and recreational facilities shall be limited according to its gross floor area based on eight square metres per person – down from 10 square metres per person – or 50 persons, whichever is lower.

Requests to admit more than 50 people may be made to Sport Singapore for large venues that can be organised into separate facilities.

Individuals must still maintain a two-metre distance while exercising, while groups sharing a space must not interact and must be three metres apart. Masks should be worn as a default and can be taken off while performing strenuous exercise.

Sport in Singapore officially ground to a halt when facilities closed and safety restrictions were imposed during the circuit breaker (April 7 to June 1) and phase one (June 2-18), before the re-opening in phase two from June 19.

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