Stones donate $390,000 in sympathy for our devil of a problem
The atypical pneumonia outbreak might have scared them away from Hong Kong but the Rolling Stones seem determined to make amends - by donating US$50,000 [HK$390,000] so elderly people can buy face masks.
The ageing British rock band made the donation - enough to buy nearly 100,000 standard surgical masks - after their cancellation meant they were unable to attend a fundraising post-concert party at the China Club.
The club's owner, David Tang Wing-cheung, said the Stones' manager told him the band was sympathetic towards the situation in Hong Kong and had therefore agreed to donate the sum to buy face masks for the elderly.
The funds were originally going to be raised through the sale of tickets to the China Club party, with an equal sum going to the Hong Kong Cancer Fund.
'We had sold about 400 tickets, but had to return them after the party had to be cancelled,' said Mr Tang.
The club had been hoping to sell a total of 500 tickets which, at $1,500 per ticket, would have raised $750,000. Half of this would have gone to the two charitable causes.
'The money from the Stones will go straight towards buying face masks, but we hope we'll be able to top up the donations from those who have decided to leave the money behind [instead of asking or a refund] and donate about $100,000 to the Cancer Fund,' Mr Tang said.
About 30 ticket buyers had not sought refunds, he added.
Ticket holders would have been able to meet the Stones in person at the China Club party.
Concerns about the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome prompted the Rolling Stones to cancel their March 28 and 29 concerts.
Some Hong Kong fans had earlier contacted the band to express their fears about going ahead with the concerts at the Convention and Exhibition Centre amid the outbreak.
Mr Tang said he appreciated the Stones' generosity.
'The Stones are very nice in supporting Hong Kong with this donation. A lot of the elderly are very concerned about the pneumonia,' said Mr Tang.