• Thu. Oct 5th, 2023

DBS Bank’s sponsorship of foreign athletes under scrutiny. Should the bank pay more attention to local sports and athletes?

Aug 27, 2023 ,

The sight of the DBS logo on the front of the playing jerseys of Indian shuttlers Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty has rubbed netizens the wrong way. 

It is unsure how much DBS paid to sponsor both Indian players, who reached the quarter-finals of the Copenhagen World Championships.


An announcement was made in India on 22 August about the sponsorship. with five of India’s top badminton stars –- Lakshya Sen, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty, Treesa Jolly, and Gayatri Gopichand –- to “enhance its brand presence in the country and connect with its diverse audience”.

Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew was also at this year’s World Championships, but he exited in the round of 16, losing against India’s H.S. Prannoy on 24 August.

TMSG was first alerted to the DBS logo by a reader who sent us a direct message, asking “shouldn’t DBS be sponsoring Singapore athletes?”.

The reality is that DBS does support local sports, albeit not in a way which has them seen prominently. 


In October 2021, the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC) announced that DBS Bank will be supporting the SNPC’s Athletes Achievement Awards (AAA) through the provision of cash awards for medals won by Singaporean athletes at major para games. 

DBS Bank has committed its support for the AAA through to the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games.

When the announcement was made, DBS Singapore Group Executive and Country Head Shee Tse Koon said, “The Singapore Paralympians are a true inspiration. 

“So when SNPC approached DBS recently to ask if we would consider sponsoring the AAA, we readily agreed. 

“All of us can do our part to create a more inclusive Singapore. As a Singapore brand, we also believe in supporting and nurturing homegrown talent.”

DBS Bank also had penned a partnership with Singaporean Olympic gold medalist Joseph Schooling in 2018, following his historic feat.

The partnership lasted for three years.


One of the reasons why Singapore sports has not flourished is the lack of corporate support for athletes and National Sports Associations. 

Take Singapore football for example. 

Even though football is arguably the world’s most marketable sport, the Football Association of Singapore was only able to garner a grand total of $428,690 in sponsorship dollars over the last financial cycle. 

This is abysmal. 

Singapore Swimming garnered slightly more than $215,000 for the last financial year, and still relies predominantly on government funding to operate. 

There are multiple other sports which operate on much lesser budgets, and handouts. 

A National Sports Association president, who declined to be named, told TMSG that it is a constant struggle to hunt for corporate dollars.

Which is one of the reasons why the sight of DBS providing support for foreign athletes does not appear to have gone down too well wth the followers of Singapore sports. 


A few netizens were right to point to how DBS’ decision to partner the Indian athletes at the world stage was a strategic one.

This would ensure the bank received global exposure, given the world class standards of the Indian shuttlers. 

But isn’t Singaporean shuttler Loh also world renowned? 


Or sprinter Shanti Pereira for that matter, who is now a hot favourite for a double gold at the upcoming Asian Games given her recent performances. 

Also, DBS’ support of the SNPC’s AAA and Schooling after his Olympic victory, can also mean that DBS only wants to be seen around winners.

The reality is that athletes need more support as they aim for victory at all levels. 

And coming in to support them only after they win can also be interpreted as being opportunistic. 


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