World-class athletes headed for HK

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 December, 2008, 12:00am

China, Japan and South Korea have promised to send a number of their world-class athletes for next December's East Asian Games, according to Hong Kong sports supremo Timothy Fok Tsun-ting.

'China has pledged to send a strong team with many of their stars and it is the same with Japan and Korea,' Fok said after yesterday's briefing for the delegation heads of the nine countries and regions that will take part in Hong Kong's first multi-sports competition.

The briefing coincided with the one-year countdown for the fifth East Asian Games. A total of 4,000 athletes and officials will gather on December 5, 2009, to take part in 23 sports featuring 281 medal events. 'The East Asian region boasts the best athletes in Asia and we have been promised that the best teams will turn up,' Fok said. 'It will be a high-level Games and one which everyone in Hong Kong should support.'

Four years ago in Macau, China included star hurdler Liu Xiang and diving diva Guo Jingjing in a powerful squad who swept the board, winning a massive 223 medals, more than half of them gold.

Fok called for the government to give the same backing and publicity it gave for the hosting of the Olympic equestrian events in Sha Tin in August. He was confident that the shortfall in funding, standing at just over HK$50 million, would be bridged.

'I assured everyone that Hong Kong would pull off an unique Games. We need the support of the commercial sector as well as the government to make it a success,' Fok said.

The government has pumped in HK$1 billion to spruce up more than 20 sporting venues around the city. This sum includes HK$400 million to build the Tseung Kwan O stadium where the track and field events will be held. The Games have an operational budget of HK$240 million, with the government giving HK$123 million and the balance to be raised through sponsorship and ticketing.

Billion-dollar baby

The government has chipped in to spruce up 20 sporting venues in the city

The East Asian Games will have athletes competing in this many events: 23