HK bid for 2019 unlikely, says Pang

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 January, 2010, 12:00am

A bid by Hong Kong to host the Asian Games is likely to be delayed for four years following strong opposition to a campaign to stage the 2019 event.

The city's successful first hosting of a multi-games event last month - the East Asian Games - has sparked support within the community to bid for the 2019 Asian Games.

However, Pang Chung, honorary secretary of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee, warned that it would not be easy to beat other bidding cities if they focused on 2019.

'As far as we know, Delhi and Kuala Lumpur are targeting the 2019 Games and both are in a better position than Hong Kong,' Pang said.

'Delhi has the infrastructure ready for a major games as they will be hosting the Commonwealth Games later this year. More importantly, they lost the 2014 Asian Games to Incheon, in South Korea, and are eager to make up for it as they have the backing of a booming economy.

'Kuala Lumpur beat Hong Kong at the 2006 Games bid, although they lost to Doha in the end. The Malaysian capital is also equipped with good facilities as it hosted the 1998 Commonwealth Games.'

Pang is also concerned about the next two Asian Games being held in East Asia - in Guangzhou and Incheon - and fears it will be difficult for the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and its national Olympic committees to back a city in the same region for the third time in a row.

'If we decide to bid, we must make sure we have a good winning chance and that's why we are also considering the 2023 Games as it can avoid the two strong favourites. Although we have no idea which city will bid for the 2023 Games, we at least have more time to prepare.'

Pang also said they would carefully study the possibility of involving Macau and Shenzhen to share some of the events owing to the scale of the Asian Games. 'We are from three separate entities within the OCA and if the two other cities are involved in our bid, it may affect the independency of three bodies,' he said.

Last night the Legislative Council passed a motion to urge the government to further enhance the standard of local sports, including team competitions, and promote sports development, including actively considering bidding for the 2019 Games.

At an Olympic Committee council meeting on Tuesday, the 40 sports involved in the Asian Games all backed a bid for either the 2019 or 2023 editions.

Hong Kong must submit to the OCA an expression of interest for the 2019 bid by March 31, before they start the preparation work.

While the sports community is in favour of staging the Asian Games, Pang said they needed a strong commitment from the government to make it a successful bid.

'The scale of the Asian Games is far much bigger than the East Asian Games and the government must be fully committed to it, or it will become another failure after the 2006 Games bid,' he said.

'We are talking about a multi-sport games for 45 countries or regions. The logistics, facilities, organisation, number of athletes - all are big challenges for the hosts. We cannot say that because Hong Kong hosted the East Asian Games, we can stage the Asian Games. The two games are on different levels.'

The Guangzhou Asia Games are expected to feature more than 15,000 athletes from 42 sports - almost a third more than the 2008 Beijing Olympics Games, which had only 28 sports. Although the OCA has decided to reduce the number of sports to 35 starting from 2019, the Asian Games are still considered the second largest multi-sports games in the world after the Olympics.

A spokesman of the Home Affairs Bureau said it would seriously study whatever bid was submitted by the Olympic Committee. 'We have not received any information on their council meeting, but will consider the bid if they propose it to the government,' she said.

Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing said at the end of the East Asian Games he believed Hong Kong could stage a successful Asian Games within 10 years.


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