Project spurred by fears over antiquated facilities at SAR's largest training institute

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 September, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 September, 2001, 12:00am

The Hong Kong Sports Institute, the largest sports training centre in the territory, is being considered for a renovation project that could cost up to $1.2 billion.

The scheme was among several proposed in a consultant study commissioned by the Sports Development Board, which manages the centre.

It is understood many board members feel facilities at the centre are antiquated. The institute in Sha Tin was built in the 1980s with a Jockey Club donation.

One board member said: 'For example, the cycle velodrome is rough and even seems to be dangerous to me.'

He said the board was due to discuss possible funding for such a revamp with the Government. It may also need to raise money from other sources.

'The timing is good. If this project can be completed in 2005 or 2006, then it could become a good training base to attract some overseas players coming here to prepare for the Olympics in Beijing. This will help local athletes to improve their standards,' he said.

But he admitted that the chances of securing backing for the project were less promising in view of the current economic downturn.

Board member Wai Kee-shun said: 'We hired a consultant to study the sports institute to see what improvements are needed. The consultant came back with a comprehensive revamp, which could cost $1.2 billion, not only to upgrade but rebuild most facilities.

'From what I have learned about the consultant's proposal, I don't support it but many board members seem in favour of it. I think it would cost too much. I think just upgrading some facilities would be good enough.'

A board spokesman confirmed the project was being studied and declined to comment further.

The move to regenerate the centre, where Paralympic Games gold medallists Chan Shing-chung and Chan Kam-loi train, was welcomed by the Hong Kong Sports Association for the Physically Disabled.

Association executive director Ronnie Yu Kwok-tung said: 'According to the feedback from our trainers and athletes, the facilities need to be revamped. There is only a track but no field, so we can't train javelin or discus competitors there.'

Patrick Chan Ping-cheun, a member of the Hong Kong Post-secondary Colleges Athletic Association, said the centre's facilities were substandard for training elite athletes. 'The swimming pool is only 25 metres long,' he said. 'There is not even a standard pool.'

Alex Wong, of the Cyclist Club, said the cycling track urgently needed replacing.

'The ground is uneven . . . it is not very safe for our athletes,' he said.