“At the heart of the WTA are the ideals of inclusiveness; expanding women’s roles in sport and society; inspiration and connection to the community through sporting heroes; creating role models for youth and energizing the growth of the game through world class events. We believe this event will inspire our athletes at home and those in the region, as well as engage the community-at-large at our new Sports Hub.”—Lim Teck Yin, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Sports Council.
There. That ought to explain things to those of you who wonder why the WTA decided move its year-end championships to Singapore for five years, beginning in 2014, after the event’s current sojourn in Istanbul ends. Clearly, the WTA passed on places where there’s less opportunity to flex those noble instincts, such as London’s O2 Arena (where those un-inclusionary ATP fellas hold their World Tour Finals) or, say, Madison Square Garden in New York.
Of course, economic factors, like the financial package put together by the SSC, might have a little something to do with this decision—but who wants to be crass and talk about money when you can talk about promoting diversity? Connecting with communities (It Takes a Village, and all that)? Creating role models?
But let me stop right here with a question. Singapore is the island country at the southern tip of the Malay peninsula. It’s a parliamentary republic dominated by the People’s Action Party and known for it’s no-nonsense approach to civic order and discipline—symbolized by the nation’s continuing use of that form of corporal punishment known as “caning.” Also, in Singapore, you can be fined—but not caned—for importing or using chewing gum.
So my question is: What if these highly disciplined, generally reserved, neat-nik Singaporeans are as appalled as so many other sports fans worldwide by the shrieking and screaming of certain WTA stars?
The WTA Championships will be held in the 7,500 seat Singapore Indoor Stadium, which is currently promoting an upcoming basketball game between the Singapore Slingers vs. the Indonesian Warriors, and upcoming concerts by singer/composer Jay Chou and Taiwanese rock band MayDay—with LED light sticks to be distributed.
Actually, the seating sounds ideal for a tennis match, at least as far as ticket-buyers go; it’s just half the capacity of a court famous for the “intimate” mood it creates, Wimbledon’s Centre Court. It will be interesting to see if Singapore can outdo Istanbul, where (presumably) the WTA’s same noble efforts at global brand awareness, along with a little incidental profit-taking, led to good crowds and a much more vibrant and credible event than some skeptics predicted.
Incidentally, if you’re contemplating attending the Championships but are concerned about the authoritarian streak that runs through Singaporean society, keep in mind that Singapore has the third highest per capita income on the planet, it’s the fourth leading financial center, and it’s known as one of the least corrupt nations on earth. To someone from scandal-plagued New York, that sounds almost like paradise.