Run not as sporting in HK as other stops

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

Hong Kong has fewer torch-bearers who are athletes or have a sports background than some relay cities.

Only 55, or nearly half, of the 120 bearers are from the sports community. Of them, only 48 are athletes or retired sportsmen.

The percentage is lower than that of the relay in St Petersburg and San Francisco.

Data from Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda showed that 70 per cent of the 80 torch-bearers in St Petersburg were from the sports community, 54 of them award-winning athletes. Only 10 per cent were from the business sector, compared with 17.5 per cent on the Hong Kong list.

For the Australia leg of the relay, 48 per cent were sports figures.

Apart from a few businessmen and politicians, the Canberra list included community identities such as respected Aboriginal elder Edmund Thomas, farmer and retired carpenter Alby Wooler, and Gillian Hicks, who lost both legs in the London bombings in 2005.

In San Francisco, at least half of the bearers were sports figures. A car accident victim and a 75-year-old refugee from the former Soviet Union also participated.

Local political commentator Leung Man-tao said more athletes and community figures should have been selected.

'Hong Kong is a very special case compared with other relay cities, as the list has only covered a small circle of people from the business and political sectors,' Mr Leung said, adding that some bearers saw it as a way to show their social status.

'For example, in Chengdu , Sichuan , 80 per cent of the bearers are just ordinary citizens.

'Sars victims or kids from Tin Shui Wai should be chosen instead.'


In Hong Kong, only 46 per cent of torch-bearers are athletes

This compares to St Petersburg, where the figure was: 70%