Opinions divided on hosting 2019 Asian Games

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 December, 2009, 12:00am

Following the 'baptism of fire' of organising this year's East Asian Games, public opinion seems divided on whether Hong Kong should bid for the 2019 Asian Games.

Lawmaker Tanya Chan, a critic of the East Asian Games, said she remained unconvinced this should happen, although she understood athletes' desire to compete at home.

She said hosting the Asian Games in Hong Kong could be a long-term goal, but only after the government increased its capabilities in organising large-scale multi-sports events, and when sufficient sports venues built to international competition standards were available.

An all-round education system that gave sufficient attention to sports and physical education would be another prerequisite, she said.

The lawmaker was referring to the various logistical flaws that became obvious during the East Asian Games, such as the absence of ticket-sales booths at some competition venues and the low initial spectator attendances, as evidence of poor government planning and execution.

But Hong Kong Sports Institute chief executive Dr Trisha Leahy said she supported the idea of a Hong Kong bid for the Asian Games, as it was an aspiration cherished by many of the city's athletes and would be good for them.

Leahy said athletes received more support when competing at home, and tended to perform better.

Former Olympic cyclist Hung Chung-yam said hosting the Asian Games would help raise community awareness of sports and therefore help build a stronger sporting culture.

The inadequacies experienced during the East Asian Games would be a lesson for the government and sports associations, although the community should shoulder responsibility as well for some of the problems, he said.

'Many people criticised the low attendance at the events,' he said. 'Then why did they not go and cheer for our athletes and give them support?'

Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, president Timothy Fok Tsun-ting said he was willing to keep the options open.

'When the [2009] East Asian Games is successfully completed, we will conduct a review [of the various arrangements],' Fok said. 'If the government supports [a bid to host the Asian Games], we will give it due consideration.'