SINGAPORE: Sixty—four athletes have been granted Singapore citizenship since the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme started in 1996.
Over the last five years, 10 of them were granted citizenship while four have since renounced their citizenship.
Among the four, two were footballers who felt that there were more playing opportunities in their place of birth.
Another was a marathoner who decided to settle back in her native country after retirement, and one was a young basketball player who felt she could not adapt to the Singapore lifestyle.
Acting Minister for the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong revealed this in Parliament on Wednesday in response to questions posed by Nominated MP Assistant Professor Eugene Tan.
Mr Wong said these athletes lived in Singapore for an average period of two years and 10 months before they were granted Singapore citizenship.
Mr Wong pointed out National Sports Associations (NSA) that wish to bring in foreign sports talents are required to put in place integration programmes to assimilate them into Singapore society.
He added the Singapore Sports Council will continue to work with the Sports Associations to improve their integration programmes.
Assistant Professor Tan also asked Mr Wong how important is sporting success to Singapore given that the public has still not warmed up to the idea of sporting success of new citizens.
Mr Wong replied: "You do see success stories of foreign sports talents who have integrated very well. When our Lions support the Suzuki Cup, for example, they won it with people like Aleksandar Duric who was on the team and he is embraced by Singaporeans as part of the team.
"And doing this doesn’t mean that we neglect talent development of young Singaporeans. They are not mutually exclusive. In fact, we have to do more to invest in training and develop our young Singaporeans, which we are doing."
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