Funding needs rethink, says top official

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 March, 2007, 12:00am

Hong Kong's top Olympic sports official says something has to change in the way funding is allocated to elite sports.

Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, president of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee, called for a review of the funding policy following the ejection of two sports - athletics and tennis - from the Sports Institute programme.

Fok said the policy was too rigid and did not fit the needs of individual sports.

'The Sports Institute [SI] should play the role of facility provider and help sports that are willing to develop at elite level,' said Fok at Tuesday's spring dinner for the sports community, attended by top officials from all the sports associations. 'But unfortunately it seems that they have become the authority that determines the future of a sport by controlling the resources.

'I think we need to sit down and discuss with the government the best way for elite sports development in Hong Kong. At the end of the day individual national sports associations should take the lead in the development of their respective sports, and all resources should be spent properly on athletes and not administration.'

Both tennis and athletics face the axe from the SI's elite programme after failing to meet the evaluation criteria in two reviews over the past four years. If the institute obtains the approval from the government's Elite Sports Committee (ESC), which will meet later this month, they will be deleted from a list of 13 current elite sports programmes on April 1.

To be eligible for elite sport status at the institute, individual sports are required to submit the best results of their two senior and two junior athletes over a two-year review period.

Those performances are given points under a scoring table comprising major international competitions. The benchmark score is nine points.

The Sports Institute spends HK$115 million a year on the 13 programmes, covering a wide range of support including coaching, local and overseas training programmes, monthly stipends, food and accommodation as well as sports science and sports medicine.

Loss of status at the SI would mean athletics and tennis must fund these support activities on their own.

Fok said he knew both tennis and athletics were on the list of medal sports when the SAR hosts the next East Asian Games in 2009. However, he refused to say whether he would back the two sports at the ESC meeting.