Officials 'dragging feet' over velodrome

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 January, 2007, 12:00am

A top cycling official wants the government to slash though red tape in order to speed up the construction of a proposed velodrome for the 2009 East Asian Games.

Herman Hu Shao-ming, vice-president of the Hong Kong Cycling Association, said yesterday the velodrome could be completed in 18 months once there was an official clearance to proceed with the construction.

But bureaucracy may hold up that process.

The proposed venue is in Tseung Kwan O, adjacent to the stadium which is under construction for the 2009 athletic events.

'If we can start the construction work in this year, we have ample time to finish the project in time for the 2009 Games,' Hu said. 'The government has already reserved the land for the venue and what we need now is the money. Once we have received the subvention, we then need to go through a lot of rules and procedures before we can actually start the construction. But I hope the government can speed up the process to help the sport.'

Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, chairman of the East Asian Games planning committee, confirmed yesterday that the games would be held from December 5-13.

However, the government has yet to ask the Legislative Council for funds to build the velodrome, part of a HK$1.4 billion redevelopment plan for the Sports Institute.

A total of 23 sports, including two demonstration sports, will be held when Hong Kong hosts its first major games in 2009. Cycling is one of the 21 medal sports.

'It will be meaningless if we only have road races,' said Hu.

'In track competition, there are more medals and Hong Kong cyclists are among the best in the region. China, Japan and South Korea, who will also compete in the 2009 Games, all want us to host track events,' added Hu.

He said he had proposed two other options to the planning committee. One was to rent a temporary, mobile facility from England which would cost around HK$9 million, just as Doha did at the Asian Games last month.

The other option would involve moving all track events to Shenzhen, where the Hong Kong team have been training for the last couple of years.

'We will be having the next round of talks with the planning committee soon and are determined to push ahead with track events for 2009. Hopefully a solution can be found soon as we need to start our preparation as soon as possible,' Hu said.