Judo chiefs fight back over 'damaging allegations'
By NORIDEEN KITCHELL
THE national judo association yesterday accused a local television station of trying to tarnish their reputation in a 40-minute documentary shown on Thursday evening.
Their response to Asia Television's News Magazine, which alleged the association's methods of staying in power and its selection policies were unfair, was to hold a press conference yesterday and answer the allegations.
The programme started with the predicament of Dutchman Hugo Weijermars, as exposed by Sports Post, in which the association have refused to select him for international matches.
It went on to allege other cases in which top players were denied representative honours and that favouritism was shown to members of three clubs - Hongkong Judokan, Far East Judo Club and Jung Wah.
The programme also revealed a case in which the mother of youth player Chan Hing-biu reported alleged irregularities by the association to the ICAC, and a club run by Chan's father was then denied membership.
And it reported that four clubs were non-existent but had voting rights and were registered under president Mak Yue-cheung, helping to give him control of the association.
Chairman Henry Shing Yuen-hing claimed the programme's allegations were misleading, calling them ''a trap to tarnish the reputation of the association''.
He said: ''As far as representation criteria is concerned, we only follow the rules laid down by the national Olympic committee.
''They clearly state that representatives must be Hongkong citizens with seven years residency, and Hugo has been here for only three years.'' Mak produced a fax from the Judo Union of Asia, clarifying the regional ruling body's rules. It stated that only people who have the nationality or citizenship can participate in the Olympics, Asian Games, World and Asian Championships, although it is up to individual associations who they send to other international and invitational events.
Shing denied the association has shown favouritism to players from the territory's three leading clubs and cited examples in which top judokas from other clubs have been regular members of the national squad.
''Lee Kan of the Tai Kok Tsui has been a member of the national team for more than six years,'' he said.
''On the other hand, Chong Siao-chin, a medallist at the 1986 Asian Games, is from the Far East club but we still left him out of the 1990 Asian Games squad.
''As for the application for membership, new clubs wishing to join the association come in as associate members and we will review their position after two years, checking they are holding regular classes and helping to develop the sport, before deciding whether they should be given full membership with voting rights.'' Mak said the four clubs which the programme claimed were ''shell companies'' do exist and that their members play once a week but do not have their own premises.
The enlisted clubs are all registered under his name and have the same correspondence address at Mak's property in Temple Street.