Safety Inquiry Reveals Factors That Led To Dragon Boat Incident

Singapore , 04 Jun 2008

Recommendations put forth to avoid similar incidents in future

Singapore, 30 May 2008 - The Safety Inquiry (SI) Panel today revealed at a media conference the factors that led to the dragon boat incident. Led by Mr Bernard Tan Kok Kiang, Chairman of the Safety Inquiry (SI) panel, the SI also put forth recommendations for the National Sports Associations (NSA) and the public to undertake to avoid similar incidents from recurring in future.

2. The SI concluded that the mishap happened due to a combination of factors. No single factor was responsible for the incident. The significant contributing factors were as follows:

a) The team's unfamiliarity with the conditions of the Race, the Race Site and the Equipment - The team and the officials were unable to fully appreciate the dangers and hazards presented by the strong current, the layout of the docking area and the difficulty in manoeuvring their boat in tight areas.

b) The low safety awareness of all involved - The team did not have an established procedure of conducting risk assessments, giving safety briefings, conducting rehearsals or conducting safety drills.

c) The lack of systematic preparation for the race - There was a lack of information about the event, the hydrography of Tonle Sap River and the race site. Most of the members including the team officials were not prepared for the strong currents or the boat, which the team had to use for the competition.

3. Having established the factors that led to the incident, the SI recommended the following preventive measures to be adopted to enhance the level of sports safety in dragon boating for future generations:

a) Recommendation One - The Singapore Dragon Boat Association (SDBA) and its affiliates should only participate in races that comply with the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) guidelines for race organisation, conduct and safety. In instances where the IDBF guidelines are not met in part or in full, the association/club/team manager/safety officer must assess if the team should still compete and what measures must be adopted to mitigate the risk of participation.

b) Recommendation Two - The SDBA and its affiliates should promote and check the compliance of its teams to the IDBF Water Safety Policy, and the Safety Standing Procedures for dragon boat Clubs and Crews while training. The continuous promotion of safety in their respective sport should be a fundamental responsibility of all National Sports Associations (NSAs).

c) Recommendation Three - The SDBA and its affiliates should put in place a proper system in preparation for races. For team sports, the development of the team for extended durations is important and the team needs to be exposed to high-level competitions on a consistent basis. By having this plan and an annual competitive schedule, the team will know well in advance how to train and prepare for events. More importantly, the SDBA should also set guidelines and SOPs for overseas events so that thorough preparations can take place.

4 Said Bernard Tan: "What happened in Cambodia on 23 November 2007 was a tragedy. It was a tragedy not only for the Team, the SDBA, the dragon boat community, but also the Singapore sports fraternity as a whole. What is important is that we learn from this incident. We believe that the greatest tragedy and greatest injustice to the five lives lost is for us not to learn anything and to allow for another accident to recur."

For media inquiries, please contact the following on behalf of the SI Inquiry Panel:

Alvin Hang
HP: 9222 1010

Gayle Wong
HP : 9753 3273

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