SINGAPORE – Extensions were granted to the national service (NS) deferments of Olympics-bound swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen, the Ministry of Defence announced in a media release on Tuesday (Aug 11).
Mindef said in its statement that both athletes’ applications for extensions for the Tokyo Games – which were postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic – were approved by the Armed Forces Council, and supported by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.
Reigning 100m butterfly champion Schooling, 25, and Quah, 23, were both granted long-term deferment from NS to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled from July 24-Aug 9. In March, the quadrennial competition was postponed to July 23-Aug 8, 2021.
Should the Olympic Games be cancelled, both athletes will be scheduled for enlistment, added Mindef in its statement.
It said: “They have also committed to be fully focused in their preparations for the Olympic Games, in order to reach their peak form and will not undertake any additional activities such as commercial sponsorships.
“Mindef extends its best wishes to Mr Schooling and Mr Quah as they pursue national pride for Singapore in the Olympic Games in 2021.”
Schooling said he was thankful to Mindef and MCCY “for their support and approval in the extension of my deferment from full-time National Service”. He added: “This will allow me to continue unhindered on my Olympic journey. Training has always been and remains my first priority.”
In May, Mindef said in response to ST queries that it was assessing Schooling and Quah’s applications for extensions to their deferments, adding it would engage them for details of their training plans and milestones in order to compete at the Olympics.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said he was “very happy” that the extensions were approved.
“The Government is fully supporting their training and preparation in their bid for Olympic success,” he said.
“I wish them the very best in their campaigns, and hope that they will continue to inspire national pride among Singaporeans!”