Singaporean swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen will be allowed to further defer serving the nation so they can focus on training for the Tokyo Olympics next year.

The Ministry of Defence today confirmed that both men have qualified for the global sporting event, which has been postponed till next year due to the pandemic. Both Schooling, 24, and Quah, 23, are expected to compete in the 100-meter butterfly events. Quah will also compete in the backstroke. 

However, the duo will have to enlist for national service should Japan cancel the Olympics, which was originally scheduled to start last month but has now been rescheduled for July 2021. 

“The Ministry of Defence … will grant extensions of deferment from full-time National Service (NS) to Mr Joseph Schooling and Mr Quah Zheng Wen to train and compete in the Olympic Games,” the ministry wrote in a statement today. ”The Armed Forces Council (AFC) has approved Mr Schooling’s and Mr Quah’s applications for the extensions in deferment. Their applications were supported by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY).”

“Should the Olympic Games be cancelled, they will be scheduled for enlistment,” it added

All Singaporean men are required to serve the nation when they turn 18, either in the army, navy, police force, or as firefighters. They can defer for valid reasons such as pursuing tertiary studies. Deferment is also granted to sportsmen assessed to be potential medal winners for Singapore at top-tier international competitions such as the Olympics. 

“Mr Schooling and Mr Quah have met the criteria for deferment to be extended. 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,” the ministry said. 

Schooling scored Singapore’s first-ever Olympic medal for swimming in the 2016 event held in Brazil. Quah also competed in the Rio Olympics but did not make it to the finals for the 200-meter butterfly event. 

They were both allowed to defer national service then.


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