APPROXIMATELY 4.6 per cent, or 39 athletes, of the total number of national athletes in Singapore are foreigners who are brought in through the Foreign Sports Talent (FST) scheme.
This scheme, helmed by the Ministry for Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), brings in foreign athletes to compete for Singapore.
The concern over whether local national athletes were given an opportunity to represent Singapore before the spot is taken by an FST athlete was raised by Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP), Ms Joscelin Yeo in a parliament session this Monday.
She also asked if there was a need to set a minimum ratio of the number of local athletes versus foreign ones.
In a written answer provided by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for MCYS, he explained that there was no need for such action, as each FST application is processed individually and is only approved if the athlete will help raise the overall standard of play in Singapore.
On top of this, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) would also have to approve the permanent residency or citizenship of the FST.
Dr Balakrishnan also replied that a programme has been formulated by the National Sports Associations to enhance opportunities for local born athletes to fulfill their potential.
According to a detailed breakdown provided by the Minister, majority of FST athletes compete in sports such as badminton (19 FSTs) and table tennis (11 FSTs).