PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 May, 2008, 12:00am

Games should be about individuals

We have finally learned who will be taking part in tomorrow's Olympic torch relay in Hong Kong.

Of the 120 bearers, less than 50 per cent will be 'athletes, retired athletes and other sports figures' ('Athletes, politicians and tycoons head torch list', April 30).

I have no interest in knowing who the other participants are because they should be in the minority. However, it is the athletes who will be in the minority. It is so ironic that people talk about not politicising the Games and yet we have so many politicians taking part in the relay.

In fact, the only way to avoid politicising the Olympics is for politicians to stay as far away from it as possible.

Those involved in the Games in any way should consider themselves citizens of the world. They should forget about their nationalities.

All Chinese should feel happy about the Games and that the event is taking place in Beijing. If it concludes smoothly, we can feel proud of a job well done.

However, it is about athletes and it is the athletes as individuals we should watch and cheer.

The reality is that whenever we attach 'nation' to something, it becomes politicised.

When athletes come representing different countries and when we keep a score of medals won by countries, the competition is no longer between individuals.

When we expect athletes to win for their country, we defeat the Olympic spirit.

The Games should be all about individuals testing themselves to their physical and mental limits and competing with others. It has nothing to do with race, religion and nationality.

It is difficult to hold an Olympic Games in a world full of vested interests among nations, religious interests and businesses. What surprises me is that Hong Kong, with its Olympic torch list, has not followed Beijing's advice to keep the Games non-political.

J. Y. K. Cheng, Quarry Bay

Moved to tears by torch relay

I realise politics cannot be separated from sport, but I hope Szeto Wah and the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China [during their parallel torch relay] will respect the feelings of billions of Chinese who support the Olympics.

I feel so sorry for those people who are not proud of their country.

Seeing the able-bodied and the disabled, young people and the elderly acting as torch-bearers during the relay has moved me to tears. It has been a difficult year so far, with rising inflation and food riots. So why can't we all do our part to at least make the Olympics a success?

G. Chan, Happy Valley

Officials toe the party line

Isn't it embarrassing to see the Hong Kong government panicking in the run-up to the Olympics?

It is trying hard to appease the central government and is toeing the party line laid down by Beijing. Officials barred Jens Galschiot (Danish sculptor of the Pillar of Shame at Hong Kong University) from entering Hong Kong ('Torch protest trio denied entry to HK', April 27). He and others denied entry are considered to be 'unwanted' because they might have staged a protest during tomorrow's Olympic torch relay in the city.

All potential protesters were allowed to visit Hong Kong during the World Trade Organisation summit, but now they are barred entry.

Instead of showing Hong Kong as a free city upholding the right to free expression, the government is prepared to show the world that Hong Kong follows Beijing's lead, suppressing those who dare to point a finger, who try to speak up.

I wonder when we will see the first dissident incarcerated in Hong Kong?

Michael Wust, Lantau

Forget about national flags

I hope many Hongkongers turn out to welcome the Olympic torch.

The Olympics is an international event and should be celebrated as such. It would be fitting if spectators carried the Olympic flag, with the five rings - a symbol of the world getting together for a great sporting occasion. Far too many spectators around the world have been attempting to politicise the torch relay by waving Tibetan, Chinese and other flags. The Olympics is an occasion for international brotherhood and I think it is great China is hosting it.

There is little need to wave national flags. Certainly it is fine to be proud of China, but the thing to be proud of is not that China is hosting the Games. Be proud if China makes a good job of it.

Dick Tibbetts, Tai Po

Smaller classes good for pupils

Smaller classes in our schools will make it easier for pupils to grasp what the teacher is saying ('Secondary class sizes cut', April 24). Teachers will also find smaller classes more manageable. Lessons may be less boring and if students are finding them more enjoyable then their marks may improve.

With smaller classes, teachers can get to know more about their students.

The only downside that I see is that having smaller classes may put a greater strain on schools' financial resources, especially if they have to employ more teachers.

I also wonder if there will be enough teachers if demand increases. To solve that problem, the government should ensure there are enough teacher training courses.

I hope this proposal, put forward by the secretary for education, gets off the ground.

Lee Yan, Kwun Tong

Why tunnel toll will not go up

Jake van der Kamp, in his Monitor column ('Bureaucrats betray their tunnel vision on toll issue', April 25), suggests that the government will not consider raising the Cross-Harbour Tunnel tolls because of the public outcry that it would cause.

I wonder if he has considered another reason why it will not take this step.

If the Cross-Harbour Tunnel was priced similarly to the other two harbour tunnels, drivers would then choose the most convenient crossing for their destination rather than the cheapest.

At a stroke much of the congestion between Central and Causeway Bay would vanish and there would be no need for the Central-Wan Chai bypass project.

Tim Gallagher, Quarry Bay

Indecent haste

I noticed that on the morning of England's national day on April 23, St George's Day, wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph in Central. However, passing by at 6pm I was shocked to see them being taken away.

At the original Cenotaph in London, such wreaths are left in silent commemoration of the war dead for weeks, not hours.

The area here is fenced off from the public, so what possible justification can the bureaucracy offer for too rapidly removing these harmless symbols of remembrance?

At least they were laid there for the day. I once observed a visiting dignitary lay a wreath at the memorial in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

As his car pulled away from the square, the wreaths were removed.

Let us hope that next time, such wreaths can be afforded the respect they deserve.

Mary Pang, Kwai Chung