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AFTER a full year of operations and delivering over 100 sporting and lifestyle events, including the ongoing SEA Games, the Singapore Sports Hub is finally ready for its official opening next month.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will do the honours and declare the S$1.3-billion complex in Kallang open at "Youth Celebrate!" on July 26, a special event that will mark the end of the Sports Hub's opening season.
The idea to build the Sports Hub started back in 2011 and the facility is now one of the largest public-private partnership projects in the region.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong noted that such a complex project had its share of challenges, and he thanked the rest of South-east Asia - Laos, Indonesia and Myanmar, in particular - for hosting the SEA Games as the Sports Hub and its 55,000-seater National Stadium were not yet ready.
There were several delays in the construction due to various complexities over the years. Singapore had planned to host the SEA Games in 2013, but eventually bowed out of the bid. The Sports Hub eventually opened its doors to the public in June 2014.
"But as they say, sometimes the best things in life are worth waiting for," said Mr Wong at a reception at the National Stadium's Bank of Singapore lounge last Friday ahead of the SEA Games' opening ceremony.
"Today, the Sports Hub is fully operational, and I'm glad that we are able to reciprocate the hospitality that all of our South-east Asian friends have extended to us over the years," he added.
More than a million people have visited the 35 hectare Hub since last June, and the facility is home to many athletes who regularly train there.
Among the major events in the next two months are the Asian Fencing Championships from June 25-30 and the Barclays Asia Trophy football tournament on July 15 and 18. Popular Korean boyband Big Bang will stage back-to-back concerts at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on July 18 and 19.
The "Youth Celebrate!" event that Mr Lee will grace is co-organised by Mr Wong's ministry and the Ministry of Education (MOE). It will feature more than 3,700 performers and athletes from all MOE schools, as well as special education schools and the institutes of higher learning.
At the event, to be held at the National Stadium, Mr Lee will seal a time capsule that contains items symbolic of Singapore's sporting aspirations.
The first two items were placed inside the capsule last Friday - a book depicting the birth of the Sports Hub, and a special SEA Games gold medal plaque with a quote from the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew that reads: "Sports must occupy a large place in our national activities . . . every citizen must keep himself fit if he wants to lead an effective life."