SINGAPORE – National sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) has suspended the ActiveSG membership accounts of players from a social badminton group that flouted safe management measures on June 22.

The group of 29 people, one of whom was a Covid-19 patient, had not followed safe distancing rules and inter-mingled across the courts during their three-hour session at Jurong East Sport Hall.

On June 28, SportSG notified the players via e-mail that their ActiveSG membership accounts had been suspended.

A SportSG spokesman said on Wednesday (July 29) that the users’ accounts will remain suspended “until the relevant authorities complete the investigations”.

This means that they will not be able to make bookings or have access to all ActiveSG facilities for the time being, including the national sports movement’s sports halls, swimming complexes, gyms and fitness studios.

Several members of the group have appealed to SportSG to lift the suspension, saying that they had not intentionally breached the rules.

The organiser, who declined to be named, wrote to SportSG on July 24 to appeal against the suspension.

He told The Straits Times: “Whether we committed any wrongdoings or not, we are all suspended.

“We also didn’t do it on purpose. The rules weren’t very clear. I saw the guidelines and it was changed again for badminton, which shows that it wasn’t very clear.”

After the incident, SportSG introduced new measures such as the mandatory wearing of wristbands to identify people from different courts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

But SportSG said on Wednesday that the safe management measures, including the one banning the inter-mixing of groups, were clearly spelt out in its advisory and at its facilities.

The agency warned that it will “act against errant users who have infringed the regulations”, including barring them from the use of ActiveSG facilities.

The organiser said that he had waited a month to approach SportSG as he was awaiting the swab test results of those who were tested.

About half of them were tested, and all tested negative for Covid-19, he added.

A group member who also did not want to be named felt that the decision was too harsh, given how sports had only restarted on June 19, a few days before the incident.

SportSG said on July 18 that there had been about 1,000 cases of safe management violations at ActiveSG facilities since they reopened in Phase Two.

The member recalled that the safe distancing ambassador at Jurong East Sport Hall had reminded some in the group to rest or warm up outside the hall if they were not using the courts, but did not mention anything about inter-mixing.

While the news of the suspension was somewhat expected, he said that SportSG could have engaged the players in its investigation of the incident before meting out the punishment.

“It feels almost like they’re not considering how it actually happened. If you choose to punish a group of 29 people, it’s as if to say the group intentionally and, in a coordinated fashion, chose to break the guidelines,” he added.

“If they gave us the (chance to give a) proper statement and called us to tell us why we were suspended and at least hear our side so that when they do choose, they would have made all considerations.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a third badminton player said: “Most of us are abiding by the law. It’s not fair, the penalty is too much.

“I don’t know what they mean by not following the rules. We went in to play and when we were not playing, we kept our distance.”

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