Former sailor, Ben Tan, sees his latest appointment as a "privilege" ©SNOC

Singapore has appointed former sailor Ben Tan as its Chef de Mission for next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The 51-year-old, an Asian Games and four-time Southeast Asian Games gold medallist, represented Singapore in the laser event at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Tan is a qualified doctor who has been Singapore's medical officer at a number of major events, including every Asian and Southeast Asian Games between 1996 and 2003.

Last year, Tan was elected as a vice-president of the Singapore National Olympic Committee (SNOC) and chaired the first SNOC Athletes' Commission in 2005. 

A former President of the Singapore Sailing Federation, Tan is currently chairman of World Sailing's Medical Commission.

"Like many Singaporeans, I look forward to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with a lot of excitement," he said. 

"The Olympics are the pinnacle for any athlete, and it's the one thing many work their entire sporting careers for.

"That makes this appointment both a tremendous privilege, and also a great responsibility.

"I will, of course, strive to fill my role the best that I can and hope that my experience as an Olympian, sports physician and administrator will be of value. 

"Team Singapore has always striven to field deserving athletes and officials of calibre, and I look forward to working with the entire team for a fruitful outing in Tokyo."

Swimmer Joseph Schooling won Singapore's first Olympic gold medal at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images
Swimmer Joseph Schooling won Singapore's first Olympic gold medal at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

Singapore made its debut in the Olympic Games at London 1948.

It continued to send a team to the Games until Tokyo 1964 when Singapore was part of Malaysia. 

Upon Singapore's full independence from Malaysia in 1965, the country continued to participate in all subsequent editions of the Summer Games except Moscow 1980, when it joined the United States-led boycott in protest at the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. 

Singapore has won a total of five Olympic medals, including its first gold at Rio 2016 when swimmer Joseph Schooling won the men's 100 metres butterfly. 

It sent a total of 25 athletes in seven sports to Rio 2016. 

Schooling is also set to be Singapore's main hope for a medal at Tokyo 2020.

"Dr Ben Tan is no stranger to the sporting fraternity in Singapore," SNOC secretary general Chris Chan said. 

"His extensive experience as an athlete and sports physician will add tremendous value to the team."

Tokyo 2020 will take place between July 24 and August 9.