Officials cling to review system

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 January, 2008, 12:00am

Elite vote process sound, insists government

The controversial review system to assess sports will remain in place despite widespread calls from the sporting community to change the scheme.

Athletics and tennis will be booted out of the Hong Kong Sports Institute at the end of the month after failing to muster the required nine points to maintain their status as 'elite sports'.

They will lose millions of dollars in funding, coaching and other support facilities.

But a spokesman for the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) - under whose auspices the Sports Institute falls - insisted the review system - which involves a complicated scoring system - was only put in place after consultation with the sports community.

'The mechanism is generally considered by the sports sector as a fair and visionary system,' the spokesman said. 'It was reviewed in 2005, and the selection and evaluation mechanism of elite sports is considered objective and flexible.'

However, the system has come under intense criticism - not only from beleaguered athletics and tennis officials, but also from other sections of the sporting community.

'It [points system] is too simplistic and fails to recognise the differences between sports,' said Bob Wilson, president of the Hong Kong Rowing Association. 'The elite sport evaluation system is based on the best results of two senior and two junior athletes, or teams, in a two-year period, a very short time frame to judge a sport, when it can take eight to 12 years to produce an international athlete.

'The government's overall approach to sports development at both the elite and community levels continues to be seriously flawed and eviction of athletics and tennis from the Institute is only its most recent failure.'

Kenneth Tsui, president of the Hong Kong Tennis Association, said: 'Removing tennis from elite sport status makes a mockery of the whole elite sport system. Surely, it isn't only the race for medals that decides what is and isn't an elite sport.'

But HAB officials pointed out that the evaluation system was devised by the sporting community.

'The present selection and evaluation mechanism of the Elite Vote review system was not developed by the Home Affairs Bureau. Instead, it was devised by a task force with members from the sports sector after a lengthy discussion and consultation process among the sports sector since 2001,' the HAB spokesman said.

'Through this mechanism, resources can be focused on those medal-hopeful sports, thereby increasing Hong Kong's competitiveness in [the] international sports arena. As such it is considered not necessary to initiate another review on the Elite Vote review system.

'The Elite Vote adopts a four-year cycle with a periodic review to be conducted every two years. The last review was conducted in December 2006, and the next review will be done at the end of this year, after the 2008 Olympic Games,' he added.