Four sports given 2012 cash boost

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 March, 2009, 12:00am

The government has selected four sports to receive an additional HK$1.5 million each annually for training in the build-up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The development comes as a result of Hong Kong's poor showing at the Beijing Olympics, from which athletes returned empty-handed.

Badminton, windsurfing, cycling and table tennis, all considered elite sports at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, will be renamed priority target sports, with medals at the London Games their prime target.

Each sport is currently awarded a yearly training budget of about HK$3 million.

'The decision has been made by the Sports Commission and shows the government's commitment to develop Hong Kong sports at the highest level,' Tsang Tak-sing, secretary for home affairs, said yesterday.

Mr Tsang was officiating at the groundbreaking ceremony for the institute's redevelopment, which will see a new HK$1.7 billion elite training centre at its existing Fo Tan site completed by 2012. But most athletes will start moving back from their temporary site in Wu Kwai Sha in the first quarter of next year when the first phase of the project is completed.

The city's athletes and coaches have been calling for better support as they prepare for the London Games after Hong Kong failed to win any medals in Beijing last year.

The institute came up with a proposal after the Games and it was endorsed by the government on Friday. The four sports were chosen based on the athletes' chances of winning medals in London.

Rene Appel, head windsurfing coach at the institute, was delighted by the decision, not only because of the additional financial support but because it demonstrated the government's commitment to winning medals at the Olympic Games.

'I have been here for 20 years and this is the first time I have heard we will be having a support policy with winning medals at the Olympic Games as our target,' said Appel, who coached windsurfer Lee Lai-shan, gold medallist at the Atlanta Games in 1996.

Snooker, karate and judo have also been identified as up-and-coming sports and HK$7 million will be injected into developing them.