Athletes, politicians and tycoons head torch list

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2008, 12:00am

San San delighted with 'great honour' of being the first bearer

Athletes, tycoons, top artists and government-friendly politicians dominate the list of 120 bearers who will carry the Olympic torch through Hong Kong on Friday.

The list was published by the Hong Kong Sports Federation and Olympic Committee yesterday.

Windsurfer Lee Lai-shan, nicknamed San San, Hong Kong's only Olympic gold medallist, will be the first to carry the torch and champion cyclist Wong Kam-po will be the last. They are among more than 50 athletes, retired athletes and other sports figures who will take a turn with the torch.

'I was only told today that I will be the first bearer,' Lee said yesterday. 'This is a great honour because the Olympics is going to be held on home soil.'

A government source said this month that Lee would receive the flame from Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. Reports have said Mr Tsang will be guest of honour at the relay opening ceremony.

The relay also features 21 business tycoons, 13 politicians and eight artists.

Sports Federation and Olympic Committee president Timothy Fok Tsun-ting dismissed suggestions that including non-sports figures distorted the Olympic spirit. 'This is not a celebration only for the sports sector, but for the whole community,' he said.

Lee Lai-shan agreed, saying the most important thing was to spread the Olympic spirit in society.

'Also, the number of sports figures on the list exceeds 50, accounting for almost half the total number,' she said.

The three wealthiest families in the city are all represented - Sun Hung Kai Properties managing director Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, Henderson Land Development vice-chairman Peter Lee Ka-kit and Cheung Kong (Holdings) managing director Victor Li Tzar-kuoi.

Other tycoons include Hysan Development's Michael Lee Tze-hau, and Pansy Ho Chiu-king of MGM Grand Paradise. Government-friendly figures from the political arena were also named but no pan-democrat is on the list.

Apart from Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying, Legislative Council president and National People's Congress Standing Committee member Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai whose selection had been reported earlier, five members of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and two rural community leaders are among the 120 torch-bearers.

Young DAB chairman Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan, who is on the list, said he understood he had been invited in his personal capacity. Asked whether he was one of the candidates nominated by the central government's liaison office, he said: 'An official called me.'

DAB chairman Tam Yiu-chung said the party had not made any nominations.

Democratic Party vice-chairman Sin Chung-kai said he was disappointed that fewer than half the torch-bearers were athletes.

Veteran artist and CPPCC member Liza Wang Ming-chuen, singer/actor Andy Lau Tak-wah and Canto-pop singer Jacky Cheung Hok-yau were also chosen.

The bearers will carry the torch on a seven-hour relay which begins at the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui at 10am, passes across the Tsing Ma Bridge, traverses Sha Tin and Central and finishes in Golden Bauhinia Square, Wan Chai, at 5pm.