Answers sought on Games sponsors, broadcasting

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 July, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 July, 2000, 12:00am

Olympic delegates have raised questions about the SAR's bid to host the 2006 Asian Games, including the amount of sponsorship, broadcasting rights and legal issues.

Officials are reviewing the queries, raised during last week's visit by a four-member team from the Olympic Council of Asia.

A delegation headed by Secretary for Home Affairs Lam Woon-kwong will be wooing support from the council's 12-member executive board during a meeting in the Uzbekistan capital Tashkent next month - the last lobbying opportunity before a decision is made in November.

A senior official said Hong Kong had dispelled doubts during the visit that it lacked world-class facilities. 'They were impressed with the fact that we clearly have the facilities,' he said. 'I think we have probably laid the myth to rest that we don't have the venues and facilities. They themselves have said that clearly we do.'

Consultants estimate the Games and its sister event, the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled, will cost taxpayers $945 million, despite projected revenue of $980 million.

The official said the figures would not be revised for the time being, but the bid committee would step up efforts to lobby for sponsorship. 'The [council] would like to see improvements in those figures. We have said all along we will be looking at ways to improve revenue and control expenditure. That depends on a lot of things like the economic situation at the time and how we approach sponsorship. So there is a lot of work to do on that. At this stage we are not inclined to change our figures just for the sake of changing.'

The delegates are also understood to have urged the Government to guard against piracy of satellite broadcasting, which might undermine revenues and hence the overall budget. The official said: 'Because of technological advances, there is a concern that people who haven't actually paid for the rights might be able to . . .broadcast independently.'

The Government will review the broadcast licensing regime to plug any loopholes. 'We think it will be all right, but because it's rather technical, we've agreed with the [council] that we will give it some study and subsequently we will confirm if it's OK,' the official said.

Another issue raised was the legal liability if the SAR failed to honour its commitment after winning the bid. The council requires the winner to sign a 'host city contract' that binds both parties legally. 'Clearly in preparing a contract like this, we need to have a clear idea of what they intend and what they mean,' the official said.

The other three cities bidding are New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur and Doha in Qatar. The official said the Government was optimistic about winning the bid. 'It seems that we can meet the requirements of the [council], which is of course very reassuring and satisfying. At the moment, it's looking quite good. Our chances remain very good.'