Athletes push for slice of HK$20m pie
HKAAA urged to fund training programmes, not invest in the stock market
A cash-flush Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association is under pressure to fill the training programme funding gap that looms as a result of track and field losing its elite status - instead of investing surplus money on the stock market.
A source close to the HKAAA disclosed yesterday that the organisation had accumulated more than HK$20 million, mainly from revenue from the Hong Kong international marathon.
The association charged each participant HK$270 to take part in this year's races (10km, half marathon and marathon). With 43,000 entrants for last Sunday's races, the HKAAA's bank balance would have been boosted by up to HK$11.6 million.
Of that amount, it is understood the HKAAA is expected to make a profit of about HK$1.5 million after expenses, including paying 29 per cent of the entry fee to a company - owned by the chairman of the marathon's organising committee, William Ko Wai-lam - that helps organise the event. This profit would be added to the existing HK$20 million in the coffers.
'This money has not been used for the development of athletes and the sport, but mainly as investment by the association in the stock market and other fixed assets,' said the source, who declined to be identified. 'This is not the proper way for the association to handle its money, especially when athletics is facing the axe from the Hong Kong Sports Institute's elite training programme next month.'
According to the source, the association informed its full members, representing 17 clubs, of the HK$20 million surplus at its last annual general meeting. 'It was proposed at the last meeting that the association should spend the surplus money on the athletes and not just keep it for investment,' the source said. 'Since then, the association has started running a very small development programme on its own, but we want to see far greater support offered to our athletes.'
The HKAAA's elite programme is supported by the HKSI to the tune of about HK$2.5 million annually. Other funding for HKAAA activities, including junior and other development programmes, is provided by Leisure and Cultural Services Department subvention. The association received HK$3.43 million in government subsidies in 2004-05 and HK$3.41 million in 2005-06.
The government's Elite Sports Committee (ESC) will meet next week to decide the fate of tennis and athletics after both of their appeals to remain in the institute's elite programme failed last month. The ESC is unlikely reverse the decision of the appeal panel, which means they will be kicked out of the SI.
Kevin Ankrom, head athletic coach at the SI, said yesterday the association had a responsibility to take care of the athletes and coaches and help them achieve success on the international stage.
'I know nothing about the surplus of the HKAAA as I only run my side of the elite programme at the HKSI,' said the American. 'However, if this money does exist, it would be far better used to promote local athletics instead of being invested in the market. The association should have plans and ideas on how to help the sport at elite level at this critical moment. This is their obligation to the sport.'