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National Stadium to miss April opening

The Singapore Sports Hub will not be fully ready by April as scheduled, with the completion of the National Stadium expected two months later.

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Sports Hub will not be fully ready by April as scheduled, with the completion of the National Stadium expected two months later.

As engineers have been working to ensure that the complex functioning of the stadium’s retractable dome roof will be glitch-free, the higher-than-average rainfall in December also slowed progress of the work.

The 55,000-seater National Stadium will be the crown jewel of the S$1.33 billion Sports Hub in Kallang.

TODAY understands that apart from the stadium, about 90 per cent of the work on the Sports Hub has been completed.

Venues that will be ready by April are the 12,000-capacity Indoor Stadium, the 3,000-seat OCBC Arena, and the 6,000-seat OCBC Aquatic Centre.

Responding to TODAY’s queries, Sports Hub CEO Philippe Collin Delavaud said the facilities will be progressively rolled out from April.

“This is to enable us to test the systems thoroughly and ramp up operations at a controlled pace, given the scale and the complexity of the project. The safety and quality of experience at the Sports Hub are paramount and we want to ensure that these are not compromised,” he said.

Singapore Sports Council (SSC) Assistant Director for Corporate Communications and Relations S Parameswaran said the council had been informed by Sports Hub of the latest timeline.

Mr Parameswaran said: “They intend to ramp up operations and progressively phase in the new facilities. Such a phased opening is reasonable, given the scale of the project, and our expectations that the project be completed safely, and a quality product delivered.”

He added that the SSC has been closely monitoring the progress of the construction and preparations for the opening. “The project is in the critical phase of testing of the structures and operations,” he said.

“If you walk or drive past, you will see that the main structures are up. Each major component has to be certified to work smoothly and safely.

Based on the status reports we have received so far, more time may be required to complete the testing and preparation of some components, but this should not delay the opening of the Sports Hub.”

When completed, the National Stadium will have the world’s largest free-spanning dome roof at 310 metres wide -- eclipsing the Dallas Cowboys Stadium’s (275 metres) in the United States.

In June last year, during the installation of the stadium’s highest truss, which measures about 77.5 metres above pitch level, the authorities expressed confidence that the Sports Hub would be fully built by April.

Mr Delavaud said the hub will announce its opening schedule and calendar of events on February 27. As of now, the earliest event to be held at the Sports Hub will be the 2nd Southeast Asian Swimming Championships at the Aquatic Centre from June 14 to 26.

The schedule for the relocation of the headquarters of some National Sports Associations (NSAs) has also been adjusted.

The Singapore Badminton Association (SBA), for one, has had its move rescheduled from June to October. SBA Chief Executive Officer Ronnie Lim said: “For such a big project like the hub, slight delays can be expected.”

He added: “We were told about a month ago about the change in timing, but the Singapore Sports Council has been very helpful. It has not affected our operations and the SBA are working closely with the SSC to make sure our move goes smoothly when everything is properly in place.”

The Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) will be the first NSA to call the hub home. It is still on track to move from its current base at the Toa Payoh Swimming Complex before the end of May, in time to host the 2nd Southeast Asian Swimming Championships.

Said SSA Executive Director Edwin Ker: “Everything is set to go and we will be based at the Aquatic Centre. We are looking forward to the move and hosting the event because the facility is top notch.”

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