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Singapore hosts the first Asian Youth Games 29th Jun 2009

The first Asian Youth Games (AYG) was hosted by Singapore over nine days from 29 June to 7 July 2009. The aim of the games was to showcase and promote a high quality of sports performance and foster healthy competition among youths in Asia. The AYG was jointly organised by the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) and Ministry of Education. The theme of the games was “Asia’s Youth, Our Future”. The games showcased nine sports and featured a total of 90 events. The cost of organising the games was $15 million, of which $8.4 million were from sponsorships.[1]

On 4 May 2009, shooter Lee Wung Yew, who was also a physical education teacher at Innova Junior College and winner of 13 Southeast Asian Games gold medals, was appointed as Singapore’s chef de mission for the AYG.[2]

The AYG opening ceremony was held on 29 June 2009 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium with 6,500 spectators; 1,300 athletes between 14 and 17 from 43 contingents; and over 800 officials in attendance. The guest-of-honour, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, officially declared the games open. The two-day torch relay culminated in the lighting of the game’s cauldron by a team of torch-bearers comprising swimmer Tao Li, shooter Jasmine Ser and bowler Remy Ong. The flame was then conveyed to a safety lamp at the games village at Swissotel The Stamford and only extinguished when the games came to a close.[3]

The Singapore contingent of 90 athletes took part in swimming and diving, athletics, football, 3-on-3 basketball, beach volleyball, bowling, shooting, sailing and table tennis.[4] The events were held at sporting venues island-wide, such as Bishan and Jalan Besar Stadiums, Toa Payoh Swimming Complex and the National Sailing Centre.[5]

Athletes were housed at the games village, which was officially opened by then Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Education, Grace Fu Hai Yien, on 26 June 2009 at the Swissotel The Stamford.[6]

The mascot of the AYG was named “Frasia”, a shortened form for “Friends of Asia”.[7] AYG merchandise such as stationery, t-shirts, caps, collar pins, Frasia plush toys, and AYG stamps also went on sale from 9 May 2009 at 20 post offices and eight SSC Sports and Recreation Centres.[8]

The AYG obtained approval from the Olympic Council of Asia to use digital media to air all its events, which allowed viewers to watch live broadcasts via the AYG website. The website also featured a message board for the public to post messages.[9]

The emergence of the H1N1 virus in Mexico just two months prior to the opening of the AYG and its subsequent outbreak cast a dark cloud over the inaugural games.[10] Some athletes who had arrived from overseas were found to have been infected and were forced to sit out the games.[11] To handle further H1N1 cases, an entire level of Swissotel was transformed into a 24-hour medical centre.[12]

The AYG theme song, “Asia’s Youth, Our Future”, was created by renowned local composer, music director and  2008 Cultural Medallion winner, Iskandar Ismail. Recorded within a week and sung by two Anglo-Chinese Junior College students, the song was well received on both the AYG website and popular social media platforms.[13]

50,000 tickets for AYG events went on sale on 20 March 2009. Ticket prices for the 90 sports events were kept between $2 to $8.[14]

The closing of the games was commemorated with a dinner and dance held in the ballroom of the Raffles City Convention Centre.[15]

At the end of the games, Singapore, having bagged nine gold medals, was ranked fourth on the overall medal tally (behind China with 25 gold medals, South Korea with 20 gold medals and Thailand with 11 gold medals). Singapore’s athletes also set six national and nine under-17 records and 36 personal best timings.[16]

Five-medal winner (four golds and one bronze), 17-year-old Singaporean swimmer, Quah Ting Wen, was honoured with the Most Valuable Player (Girls) at the games closing ceremony on 7 July 2009.[17]

1. Low, L. F. (2009, July 8). More in store for medallists. Today, p. 42; Duffy, A. (2009, July 14). Team effort. The Straits Times, p. 79; Tan, Y-H. (2009, June 30). Off to a rousing start. Today, p. 1; Low, L. F. (2009, March 20). 101 days to go, the rush begins. Today, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Ministry of Education. (2009, June 5). First Asian Youth Games opening ceremony to be a dazzling celebration of the creativity and exuberance of youth [Press release]. Retrieved 15 December, 2015, from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
2. Chen, M. (2009, May 4). Wung Yew to lead AYG team. The Straits Times, p. 34. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Today, 30 Jun, 2009, p. 1; Lim, L. (2009, June 30). Pure energy. The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Today, 8 Jul 2009, p.42.
5. The Straits Times, 14 Jul 2009, p. 79.
6. Ministry of Education. (2009, June 26). Speech by Ms Grace Fu Hai Yien, Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Education, at the Asian Youth Games Village Opening Ceremony on Friday, 26 June, 2009, 9:00am at Swissotel The Stamford, Singapore. Retrieved 15 December, 2015, from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
7. Say hello to Frasia. (2009, April 15). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. AYG merchandise on sale. (2009, May 9). The Straits Times, p. 85. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Tham, Y-C. (2009, July 8). Virtual mascot talks back. The Straits Times, p. 63. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Ministry of Education, 26 Jun 2009; Voon, T. (2009, June 29). AYG torch relay off to glittering start even as Malaysians stay home. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Voon, T. (2009, July 8). Fitting finale. The Straits Times, p. 29; Lim, L. (2009, June 27). H1N1 will not dampen AYG spirit. The Straits Times, p. 92. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Tan, A. (2009, June 29). The road to AYG. The Straits Times, p. 72. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Tan, A. (2009, July 13). The piano man. The Straits Times, p. 71. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Today, 20 Mar 2009, p. 46.
15. The Straits Times, 8 Jul 2009, p. 29.
16. The Straits Times, 8 Jul 2009, p. 29; Today, 8 Jul 2009, p. 42.
17. Tan, Y-H. (2009, July 8). Ting Wen shines bright. Today, p. 41. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


The information in this article is valid as at Feb 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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