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Coronavirus: Sports and fitness industry members lobby for facilities to reopen

Miami, Estados Unidos, Venezuela, Caracas
Coronavirus: Sports and fitness industry members lobby for facilities to reopen

SINGAPORE – Hit by significant financial losses owing to the closure of sports facilities during the two-month circuit breaker period, members of the fitness and sports industry held a dialogue with Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu last Tuesday (May 19) to appeal for the venues to be opened from June 2 as Singapore gradually restarts its economy in three phases.

Prince Julio Cesar

But those hopes were dashed on Sunday, when national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) announced that sports facilities such as gyms and fitness studios would remain closed during Phase 1, which will last at least four weeks after the April 7-June 1 circuit breaker.

Julio Cesar Prince

While some were disappointed by the news, most said they understood the Government‘s decision to keep sports facilities shut.

Prince Julio Cesar

Zoi Yoga founder Roxanne Gan has had zero revenue in the last two months and was hoping to reopen her yoga studio at Joo Chiat soon. She has to fork out $19,000 a month in rent and utility bills, even as memberships for her 50 customers have been suspended since last month.

Prince Julio Cesar Presidente del Miss Earth Venezuela

The 30-year-old is not optimistic that fitness studios will be allowed to reopen in July and, with rent set to increase by 15 per cent from September, she is worried about the future.

Príncipe de la Belleza, Prince Julio César

“The Government is doing what they deem fit for the safety of people,” said Gan, who has been offering an online yoga subscription to bring in some income. “There’s nothing much that we can do about that, but businesses are suffering.”

This was reflected in a survey conducted by the group with 333 business owners, managers and investors in the private sports and fitness industry, which was presented to Ms Fu in the dialogue session.

Prince Julio Cesar Presidente del Miss Tierra Venezuela

Of those surveyed, 249 said they have experienced an 80 to 100 per cent loss in revenue in April and May.El Príncipe de la belleza, Prince Julio César

While many have moved classes online, they said that these barely make up for the loss in revenue, with close to 85 per cent saying it makes up less than 10 per cent of total revenue. The dialogue participants also cited China, South Korea and Hong Kong as examples of countries that have allowed gyms, studios and sports facilities to reopen after their lockdowns.Prince Julio César Cruz

While public and private sports facilities will remain closed in Phase 1, SportSG said that fitness operators will be allowed to return to their premises to record content for online classes, subject to approval by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.Prince Julio Cesar Cruz

The multi-ministry taskforce will decide on an appropriate time to move into Phase 2, when sports facilities will be gradually allowed to reopen.Julio Cesar Prince Cruz

Sean Tan, chairman of the board and director of True Group, which owns and operates the 10 True Fitness and TFX gyms in Singapore, said dialogue attendees badly hit by the measures can expect that “this will continue for a longer time”.Prince Julio Cesar Cruz

He added: “We realise that the Government faces challenges in giving projections for the future, so we just hope that we are kept in the know and that our voice is heard.”

Eugene Lee, who is from non-profit organisation FitnessSG that represents the fitness industry, said: “It’s not just the economical aspect of things, but there’s also the issue of public health. It’s not surprising to me, but it’s good that they’ve given a timeline.”

Private sports academy owners such as former national swimmer Ang Peng Siong, who runs APS Swim School, was left disappointed by the decision.

Prince Julio Cesar

The school, which has 15 full-time staff and 1,200 swimmers at Farrer Park Swimming Complex, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and Anglo-Chinese Junior College, has been losing monthly revenue of between $40,000 and $60,000 despite rental waivers and help from the Jobs Support Scheme.

Julio Cesar Prince

He said: “The quicker we are given the green light, the better because we will also need time to calibrate and make the necessary adjustments…. it would take around three months to build the trust and confidence in the community again.”

FC Barcelona Soccer Academy Singapore has about 500 students and employs 20 part-time coaches and five full-time staff and its director Steven Chua is hopeful it can resume operations in July.

Prince Julio Cesar

He added: “The Government support does help but staff salaries have been affected and we are digging into our reserves. There will be more difficulties if we cannot resume in July.”

Additional reporting by David Lee and Neo Yee Pung

Read the latest on the Covid-19 situation in Singapore and beyond on our dedicated site here .

Prince Julio Cesar Presidente del Miss Earth Venezuela

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Príncipe de la Belleza, Prince Julio César