SAR 'not yet ready to host mega sports events'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 September, 2003, 12:00am

HONG KONG still has a long way to go before it can realistically contemplate hosting mega sports events such as the Universiade or Asian Games, according to a sports official.

'Every section of society - not just the athletes and organisers - needs to be aware of how a positive attitude towards competitive sports can change a place for the better,' said Patrick Chan Ping-cheung, deputy head of the Hong Kong delegation to the just-concluded Universiade in Daegu, South Korea.

'Daegu is a great example. Last year [they had] the FIFA World Cup here, and the Universiade has changed people's attitudes forever. The whole city has played a part in making this event a success.'

Student volunteers of all ages were omnipresent at Universiade sports venues spread around the city of 2.5 million people. The students revelled in the challenge of solving visitors' problems - big or small.

'It is an important question: If our bid for the Asian Games is successful, would people in Hong Kong mobilise like they have in Daegu?' Chan said.

'Last week I saw kindergarten-age children cheering for swimmers from countries they have never heard of! It was incredible. They were inspired to do it after seeing their elders cheering.

'Would people in Hong Kong abandon their loyalty to their home teams in order to make it (the Asian Games) a success? I don't know about that.

'Schools and companies would have to release students and employees so they could become volunteers. But another major hurdle would be the quality of venues and a commitment to raise the level of safety in those places,' Chan explained.

To bring a major event to Hong Kong would be no simple task. But it would be a challenge worth taking.

Chan said: 'After what I have seen in Daegu, I know that if Hong Kong ever managed to bring it off, it would have a wonderful and lasting effect.'