Joseph Schooling, Quah Zheng Wen granted extensions to NS deferment for 2021 Tokyo Games

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·3-min read
Singapore's Joseph Schooling (R) celebrates with compatriot Quah Zheng Wen after winning the men's 100m swimming butterfly during the SEA Games (Southeast Asian Games) at the Aquatic center in Clark, Capas, Tarlac province, north of Manila on December 6, 2019. (Photo by TED ALJIBE / AFP) (Photo by TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)
Singapore's Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling (right) celebrates with compatriot Quah Zheng Wen after winning the men's 100m butterfly event at the 2019 SEA Games. (FILE PHOTO: Ted Aljibe/AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Both Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen have been granted extensions of deferment from full-time National Service (NS) to train and compete in the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.

In a media statement on Tuesday (11 August), the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said its Armed Forces Council has approved the extensions for the two swimmers, who have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, which was postponed from this year to July 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The applications were supported by the Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY).

“I am thankful to the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) for their support and approval in the extension of my deferment from full-time National Service,” Schooling said in a media statement on Tuesday.

“This will allow me to continue unhindered on my Olympic journey. Training has always been and remains my first priority.”

Meeting criteria for deferment extension

Schooling, 25, is Singapore’s first-ever Olympic gold medallist, and will be defending his men’s 100m butterfly title in Tokyo. Quah, 23, will be taking part in his third Olympic Games, after qualifying for the men’s 100m butterfly and backstroke events.

Both had first applied for NS deferments to compete in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Subsequently, their deferments were extended for them to take part in the Tokyo Games.

“Mr Schooling and Mr Quah have met the criteria for deferment to be extended,” Mindef said in the media statement.

“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.”

Should the 2021 Tokyo Olympic be cancelled, however, Mindef said that the duo will be scheduled for enlistment.

Deferment to exceptional sportsmen

Deferment may be granted to exceptional sportsmen who are assessed to be potential medal winners for Singapore at top-tier international competitions like the Olympic Games.

Applicants will have to show why deferment is necessary for them to compete successfully at these competitions and bring national pride to Singapore. Each case is assessed in consultation with MCCY.

Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday that he is glad that both Schooling’s and Quah’s NS deferments have been approved to be extended.

“Both Joseph and Zheng Wen have qualified for at least one individual event each at the Olympics. The government is fully supporting their training and preparation in their bid for Olympic success,” he wrote.

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