Public 'will have say on Asian Games bid'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 February, 2010, 12:00am

Hong Kong's government will seek to gauge the level of public support should the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee (SF&OC) submit a formal notice of interest in hosting the 2019 or 2023 Games before the deadline next month.

The Home Affairs Bureau revealed the plan as Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing said yesterday that the promotion of sports would top the bureau's agenda this year after the city's successful first hosting of a multisport event in December - the East Asian Games.

However, he said the bureau had not yet been informed by the SF&OC about whether it would submit an expression of interest and it would not influence the committee making the decision.

The SF&OC must submit to the Olympic Council of Asia an expression of interest in hosting either the 2019 or 2023 Asian Games before March 31.

As the actual formal application to host either edition of the Asian Games must be submitted by the end of June, the government would have a tight window in which to carry out public consultation and to decide whether it would support such a bid.

Tsang said the bureau would support the application and pledge financial commitment if assessments showed Hong Kong had a chance to win of more than 50 per cent. Any assessment would take into account the chance of rival cities winning and how much financial support the government had to pledge.

When asked whether the bureau would launch a public consultation to find out public opinion on the bidding, Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Raymond Young Lap-moon, said: 'We can launch a public consultation. At the same time the bureau will assess the city's winning chance.'

Tsang, asked about Hong Kong's chances, said: 'From past experience, cities that have had failed bids before are more likely to win their second application. Hong Kong has lost before, so we might have a better chance.'

He said the sports community was more supportive of the 2023 bid because it gave Hong Kong more time to development its sports facilities.

Pang Chung, honorary secretary of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee, has given warning that it would not be easy to beat other bidding cities if the committee focused on 2019.

Delhi and Kuala Lumpur were targeting the 2019 Games and both were in a better position than Hong Kong, Pang said.