Majority Of Singaporeans Polled Think Soh Rui Yong Should Compete In 2019 SEA Games

There’s been widespread disbelief among Singaporeans ever since news broke that Soh Rui Yong won’t be representing the country in the 2019 SEA Games.

On 1 Aug, Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) announced that they rejected the nomination for the two-time gold medallist’s participation in the games.

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The biennial sports event is due to start on 30 Nov in Manila, the Philippines.

Most Singaporeans want Soh to run

Be it mainstream or alternative media, Singaporeans splashed their unbridled sentiments of shock and incredulity across comment sections.

Veteran sports journalists from The Straits Times shared similar sentiments as the public, and questioned why Singapore Athletics (SA) even nominated Soh in the first place if they weren’t going to appeal for him.

On Tuesday (6 Aug), MS News ran a Telegram poll with the question, “Should two-time gold medallist Soh Rui Yong be allowed to represent Singapore in the SEA Games?”

Out of the 4,096 people who voted, 15% chose “No, he should be excluded from the team.” In contrast, a whopping 85% think he should be allowed to represent Singapore.

Results consistent with widespread support for Soh

The poll results are consistent with the outpouring of community support for Soh. Among some of the reasons cited by Singaporeans this include:

  • Soh should be on the team based on Singapore’s standards of meritocracy
  • Soh shouldn’t be penalised for speaking his mind
  • Singapore is “throwing away” a gold medal
  • Politics should be left out of sports

Finally, those who support Soh simply believe that no athlete should be denied the opportunity to pursue their passion. You can view what supporters are saying here.

Latest status of the petition to reinstate Soh

The online petition that was launched last Friday morning (2 Aug) on Change.org has 2,740 signatures at the time of writing.

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This milestone was achieved in less than a week. Here’s a look at some of the recent comments.

One user wrote that Soh has been an inspiration to the local and international running community.

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He also said Soh “inspires truth” and that “being outspoken in social media and press will inevitably ruffle some feathers, but that doesn’t necessarily make one a ‘bad boy’.”

Another user thinks politics and autocracy should be left out of the equation when it comes to qualifying national talents.

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Ashley Liew’s sportsmanship remains the bone of contention

Soh, who turned 28 on 6 Aug, his SEA Games nomination was rejected due to his claims of fellow athlete Ashley Liew’s sportsmanship at the 2015 SEA Games Marathon.

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In a blog post titled “My 28th Birthday Message to my supporters, Ashley Liew and SNOC”, he documented all aspects which he believes SNOC faulted him over.

He welcomes SNOC to challenge and clarify the facts that he laid out and at the same time, hopes Ashley could get in contact so they could “meet up and talk this through”.

Although Soh said he was heartened by the people who started the online petition, he remains acutely aware of the facts.

Only a handful of people get to decide whether he represents Singapore at major games, and this includes SNOC President Mr Tan Chuan-Jin. Soh shared,

So as long as the team above feels that I’m not fit to represent Singapore at the 2019 SEA Games, that will remain the case.

Appeal against SNOC’s decision

Although SA said they won’t be appealing against SNOC’s decision, perhaps the council can arrange a meeting and reconsider their stance before making this a permanent decision that will set the precedent for future national team selections.

Given the opinion of the vast majority who are against Soh’s exclusion, we hope at least some discussion will be held. And ultimately, pave the way towards securing a gold medal for Singapore in the upcoming games.

Disclosure: Mr Soh is an employee of The Smart Local, an affiliated company of MS News.

Featured image adapted from Soh Rui Yong on Facebook.